So Minnesota: The long battle over the first Minnesotan to sign up and fight in the Civil War |

So Minnesota: The long battle over the first Minnesotan to sign up and fight in the Civil War

Joe Mazan
Updated: June 21, 2021 10:27 PM
Created: June 21, 2021 04:43 PM

It's a battle that's been fought since the Civil War.

Who was the first soldier from Minnesota to step up and fight for the North?

In 1861, when President Lincoln put out the call for help to defend the union, Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was in Washington, D.C. and offered Lincoln 1,000 soldiers.

"Minnesota was only a 3-year-old state at that point so the best way to get notoriety with a new nation with a new state is to volunteer and step up," Anoka County Historical Society Executive Director Rebecca Ebnet-Desens said.

So Minnesota

Aaron Greenwald, of Anoka, and Josias King, of St. Paul, quickly signed up.

Both men have been known as the first to fight for the North.

Greenwald was killed fighting in the war leaving behind his wife and two young boys, while King lived to the age of 83.

The battle over No. 1 has been fought for more than 150 years.

"The best language to use is that Aaron Greenwald would be the first volunteer, whereas Josias King would be the first enlisted," Ebnet-Desens said. "By spending so much time arguing about who's first you're also discounting the thousands that came after them. There are literally thousands of people that deserve equal credit because they also left their families, they also left their jobs, they also got killed, they also came home with PTSD, they also ruined their lives for the cause and to boil down a conversation to two people and which one signed up first, I think it really takes away from the sacrifice of the other thousands."

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