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 William Colvill, Jr

William Colvill, Jr

Birth
Forestville, Chautauqua County, New York, USA
Death 12 Jun 1905 (aged 75)
Fort Snelling, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Cannon Falls, Goodhue County, Minnesota, USA
Memorial ID 6096 · View Source
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Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. He served during the Civil War first as Colonel and commander of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, then as Colonel and commander of the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery. During a critical time on the second day in the Battle of Gettysburg (July 2, 1863), the Union center line along Cemetery Ridge was under direct assault by a force of 1500 Confederate troops. Army of the Potomac II Corps commander Major General Winfield Scott Hancock saw the situation was grave, and unless he found someone to plug the hole in the Union line, the Confederates would flow through, undoubtedly collapsing the Union center, and likely more. Looking around, all General Hancock saw to send against the charging Confederates was a group of 250 men from the 1st Minnesota. He ordered their commander, Colonel Colvill, to have the men charge into the oncoming Confederates, and hold them off for 5 minutes, enough time for Hancock to bring up reserves and shore up the line. Immediately, the Minnesotans under Colvill charged across open ground right into the fury of the oncoming Confederates. Colonel Colvill and his men stopped the Confederates despite the odds, giving General Hancock not the 5 minutes he required, but 10, enough time for Union reinforcements to come up and force the Confederates to withdraw their charge. The Minnesotans, for their gallantry, suffered a heavy toll. In their tenacious stand, they suffered 82% casualties, one of the highest casualty rates of any one unit in the history of the United States Military. General Hancock later wrote the charge of the 1st Minnesota has no equal in all of modern warfare. Their action undoubtedly saved the day for the Union, likely the whole battle, and possibly the entire war. William Colvill survived the battle, and the war, becoming a prominent newspaper editor, and serving as Minnesota Attorney General from 1866 to 1868. He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on March 13, 1865 for "gallant and meritorious services". Today a distinctive monument for the 1st Minnesota stands on South Hancock Avenue near the fields in Gettysburg National Military Park where the regiment made their brave charge.


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Aug 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6096
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Colvill, Jr (5 Apr 1830–12 Jun 1905), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6096, citing Cannon Falls Community Cemetery, Cannon Falls, Goodhue County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .