By the summer of 1862, it was clear that the Civil War would not be over quickly. In July and August, President Lincoln called for several hundred thousand additional men to enlist for the Union cause. In response, the Tenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment formed between August and November of that year.
With the outbreak of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in August, the Tenth's services were retained for state defense. Companies of the Tenth served at the defense of New Ulm and Fort Ridgely in late August, shortly after the fighting began. They also fought at the battles of Birch Coulee and Wood Lake in September.
In the war's aftermath, six companies of the regiment were present at the December 26 hanging of thirty-eight Dakota prisoners in Mankato. In early 1863, the Tenth occupied posts throughout the state. Between June and September, the regiment took part in General Henry Sibley's Punitive Expedition in Dakota Territory, pushing the remaining Dakota west to the Missouri River.
With the home state feeling secure, the Tenth finally headed south to join the larger conflict. On October 7, 1863, Colonel James H. Baker and his Tenth Minnesota departed Fort Snelling for St. Louis. After several months of garrison duty, Colonel Baker was permanently assigned to the Department of the Missouri. Lieutenant Colonel S.P. Jennison took command of the regiment. He had previously served with the Second Minnesota Infantry and would prove an able leader.
By June of 1864, the Tenth had relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. It became part of the First Brigade, First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, commanded by Major General A.J. Smith.
The following month, the regiment moved toward Tupelo, Mississippi. They were to protect General William T. Sherman's supply lines from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men as Sherman's troops moved towards Atlanta. In the resulting battle of Tupelo, July 14–15, the regiment guarded an artillery battery. Though the Tenth fired only one volley, it suffered one killed and twenty-one wounded.
After spending the next month in a series of marches pursuing General Forrest, Major General Smith's forces returned to Memphis at the end of August. That fall, the Tenth experienced hard marching through Arkansas and Missouri. They were pursuing Confederate forces under General Sterling Price. Price was intent on capturing St. Louis and then raiding into Illinois. The Tenth helped defeat him and his men in a series of engagements, and at the end of November, the Sixteenth Corps moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
There it joined Union forces under General George H. Thomas. Confederates under General John B. Hood had erected temporary defenses south of the city. Union troops attacked and captured a series of them on December 15. The Tenth Minnesota claimed the capture of two cannons and more than one hundred prisoners.
The following afternoon, Colonel William L. McMillen's brigade, which included the Tenth Minnesota, attacked Confederate fortifications on a prominent hill. The brigade received a close-range musketry volley and the Tenth Minnesota suffered several casualties. The troops continued forward, and the attack was a resounding Union success. However, the Tenth suffered more in killed and wounded than the rest of the brigade combined. Lieutenant Colonel Jennison was severely wounded in the final charge of the day.
After its defeat of Hood's army at Nashville, the Tenth moved to Eastport, Mississippi. In February of 1865, it relocated to New Orleans. In March, the corps embarked on General E.O.C. Ord's campaign against Mobile, Alabama. There, it was lightly engaged in the siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely outside Mobile, March 26–April 8.
Following those Union victories, the Tenth occupied Montgomery, Alabama and then moved to Meridian, Mississippi. In July, the regiment began its journey home. On August 18, the officers and men of the Tenth Minnesota Infantry were discharged from service at Fort Snelling.
Board of Commissioners. Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861-1865. 2 vols. St. Paul: Pioneer Press Company, 1891.
Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines, IA: Dyer Publishing Company, 1908.
Hubbard, Gen. Lucius, F. Minnesota in the Battles of Nashville, December 15th and 16th, 1864: An Address Delivered Before the Minnesota Commandery of the Loyal Legion. St. Paul: n.p., 1905.
United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 70 vols. in 128 parts. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901. Reprint: Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1971. (Series 1, vol. 45, part 1.)
Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.
The Tenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment takes part in a series of dramatic charges on December 15 and 16, 1864, sweeping the Confederates from the battlefield at Nashville, Tennessee.