Holding On To History: Civil War re-enactors honor Albert Woolson in Duluth

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - During the War between the States, this Model 1857 Napoleon cannon would bark 12 pounds of grapeshot at a time towards the enemy. Saturday, it spoke once more as a tribute to Albert Woolson, the last survivor of the Union Army. It appears he lied about his age to join a Minnesota Artillery Regiment in 1864.

“You take a look at his headstone it says he was born in 1847 but all census records show he was born in 1850.” said Jay Hagen of the Saint Louis County Historical Society.

If that’s true, Woolson was 106 when he died in Duluth in 1956. His passing was big news all across our nation. Civil War re-enactors came from all over Minnesota over the weekend to educate people about the last veteran of the war.

“My degree is actually in history education so this is a great way to get our and engage the public and literally feel and listen and experience history in person.” said Civil War re-enactor Jason Grimm of Duluth.

The tribute to Albert Woolson was put on by The Sons Of Union Veterans of the Civil War. They want to do services like this for the last Union survivor in all 87 Minnesota Counties. They’re about half-way there. The research to find the honorees is time consuming.

“Of course, we have to find every Union soldier and the ones that are buried on the family farm are ones not in cemeteries and we don’t have records on.” said Colonel Gary Carlberg, a veteran of the Iraq War.

Retired General Ronald Hien of the Saint Louis County Historical Society tells us these people deserve to be remembered a century and a half later.

“I think Albert Woolson is still symbolic from the standpoint that we need to remember what the Civil War was all about and how it ended slavery in the United States and kept the nation together.” said Hien.

Many of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War can literally trace their families back to a Civil War vet. Others join the organization to honor General Hien’s request to remember.

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