When the Civil War began, Minnesota's population numbered about 172,000. Of these, an estimated 15% were mustered into military service to fight for the Union army. The National Archives Index shows 30,972 names. The actual number of men who served is placed at 26,717.
Two battles were fought in Minnesota during the war. These involved the Sioux Indians angered by the failure of the Federal government to provide annuities and by the poor quality of rations.
The Fourth Minnesota was one of three Minnesota units participating in the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863. Historian and Civil War veteran William Watts Folwell noted that the regiment's conduct in the operation "was so efficient and gallant as to secure, along with its brigade, the honor of leading the victorious column into the surrendered fortress," the event pictured in Francis D. Millet's painting. The regiment's brass band led the column.
Francis D. Millet (1846-1912) was a leading American artist of murals and historical scenes. Trained in Holland as a painter, he was also a war correspondent who reported battles in Europe through articles and illustrations. Millet's painting of The Treaty of Traverse Des Sioux also hangs in the Governor's suite.
This painting is in the Minnesota Historical Society Collections.