Day 22: The Men of the First Minnesota in Pictures and Stories

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Minnesota finalist:

Every Man Did His Duty: Pictures & Stories of the Men of the First Minnesota by Wayne D. JorgensonEvery Man Did His Duty:
Pictures & Stories of the Men of the First Minnesota
by Wayne D. Jorgenson
Published by Tasora Books
Category Sponsor: Meyer, Sherer & Rockcastle (MS&R)

Using stirring personal accounts and a magnificent collection of rare images and artifacts, Wayne Jorgenson has crafted an intimate portrait of Minnesota’s most-renowned Civil War fighting unit. Meticulously researched and well written, Every Man Did His Duty brings the story of the First Minnesota to life.

Excerpt from Every Man Did His Duty:

Like almost every regiment that formed early in the war, the First Minnesota was made up of men who felt a strong sense of patriotism. These men had left homes in the East or resettled from countries far away, all with the hope of starting a better life with an appreciation for having the opportunity to do so. They felt that any attempt at tearing down a government that had given them this opportunity was not right. Out of a sense of loyalty, these men rose to defend their government and the freedoms it provided. They were men like Benjamin Staples (Co. E), a farmer from St. Joseph. At noon one day, as he plowed his field, he heard the news of the firing on Ft. Sumter and the government’s call for troops to put down the insurrection. Staples literally left his plow in the field and traveled to Ft. Snelling to enlist.

Wayne JorgensonWayne Jorgenson is a founding member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry reenactment group, which today remains dedicated to educating the public about the life of the Civil War soldier and preserving the memory of the men who served in the original unit. He is the co-creator of the website, which documents the lives and service of the men of the First Minnesota, and an accomplished collector of First Minnesota and Civil War artifacts. He has worked as a financial advisor for over thirty-five years and lives in Even Prairie, Minnesota.

“Pictures tell a story in their own way. I wanted to have the reader be able to look at a picture of the soldier as they read his wartime story and thus get a better feel for the character of the individual.” —Wayne D. Jorgenson in Q&A with Eden Prairie News


“This is an exhaustively researched history of the men of the First Minnesota—astonishing in detail and rich in personal stories.” —MN Book Awards judge

”Wayne Jorgenson’s photographs and commentary on the First Minnesota offer an entirely new–and an especially human–understanding of these remarkable men who gave so much. Wonderfully written and assembled, this book is essential to anyone reading about their exploits.” — Richard Moe, author of The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers and president emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation

”Like the men he writes about, Wayne Jorgenson has breathed black-powder smoke, marched in soggy brogans and blue wool, gnawed hard-tack, and sighted down the barrel of a .58-caliber Springfield. He has hit a bull’s-eye with Every Man Did His Duty. Jorgenson brings the passion of a meticulous amateur historian and reenactor to this very professional contribution to the canon of Civil War scholarship. Across 150 years, he makes the men of the First Minnesota as real and immediate to us as our own brothers, sons, fathers, and friends.” —Brian Leehan, author of Pale Horse at Plum Run: The First Minnesota at Gettysburg


Check it out at the Saint Paul Public Library!

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music by Reina del Cid and the Cidizens. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read Every Man Did His Duty? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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