Allow me to introduce myself; I am Johan Steele, 3rd Sergeant of D Company 4th MN VI. Before you waste time looking that is not my real name. A name has power and I give my name to few.
I am a simple man who enjoys my pipe and my cognac. I have a woman I love at my side and a rifle in my hand. A man needs little more than that to be happy; everything else is extra.
I immigrated into the US in the spring of 1858 after my discharge from fifteen years of service within the French Army fighting in North Africa and the Crimea. I arrived in Charleston, SC eager to live the American dream. I made my first purchases at a dry goods store on State Street. My intention was to travel west to the land of the Minnesota and trade with the Red Indian. My travel to Minnesota was an educational and somewhat profitable one as I arrived in Minnesota with nearly as much money as when I left Charleston. Honest? Not really; but those who handed me their money no longer needed it. I wintered as a hired man with my wife Wilamina a few miles from a small town called Red Wing and then in the spring began my trek to the west. I did rather well trading pots for furs. When I returned in the late fall my earnings quickly fell away.
By the time of the beginning of the War of Rebellion I was hungry and looking at my wife who was wondering what we would next eat. I presented myself to the officers at Fort Snelling, once I explained my military experience I was quickly elevated to the rank of Sergeant and took up the responsibility of training these young Minnesota men in the fine art of soldiering. Between a rather interesting Prussian and myself those Minnesota men soon knew how to march and the intended use of the bayonet. My wife became a laundress in the fort and quickly began to earn extra coin with her cooking skills. Her bread and pies would become the thing of legend.
When the 4th MN VI was formed and sent west I was asked to form the NCO cadre; which I did with great pride. I would serve until the end of the war.
This blog is intended to honor the history of the men and women who served through the four bloodiest years of US history. It will focus on the tools, weapons, places and people of the era. I will do this a little at a time. If you don’t like it you are free to leave, if you do not like me… fine I have never been all that interested in popularity contests.