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John G. Mertz Civil War unit history

 Collection — Box: Civil War 1, Folder: 27, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2018-124-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains one unit history, twenty pages, written by Sgt. John G. Mertz, USA after the Civil War. In this personal narrative he writes about his time serving with Company F, 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army.

The history begins with a note on his ability, or lack thereof, to write this given time constraints and a faulty memory, also that their records were lost on the return to Minnesota from the South.

The unit was recruited in Dakota County and organized at Fort Snelling on August 22, 1862. Sgt. Mertz then gives a list of the officers, non-commissioned officers and all enlisted men with locations of recruitment, as well as muster in and out dates, 111 total (a list can be found in Keywords). Mertz also lists promotions which include three men that were promoted and given positions with colored regiments. One of those men, Fourth Sergeant John A. Moulton, was promoted to second lieutenant and he took 25 men to guard a mill in Mississippi. They were surprised by the enemy and all of them were killed.

Sgt. Mertz then begins his description of events, where they were marched, in what battles they participated, and the conditions. Over the course of the war, they served General Henry Hastings Sibley and assisted the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division commanded by General J.J. Woods and General J.A. Mower, respectively. They passed through or stayed at Camp Release, Yellow Medicine, Camp Lincoln, Mankato, Camp Pope, Fort Abercrombie, Schofield Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, Memphis, Vicksburg, Mobile, New Orleans, Spanish Fort, Selma, and guarded Cahaba, Alabama before returning to Minnesota to be discharged.

They engaged the enemy at the Battle of Wood Lake in September 1862, and took 170 "Indian" prisoners at Yellow Medicine, as well as executed 38 Sioux for murder of whites, though President Lincoln telegraphed a reprieve for more, considering them prisoners of war. They continued to encounter and fight "Indians" as they travelled up the Missouri River.

The unit also engaged in the Battle of Tupelo in the summer of 1864 and were active in a successful raid on the enemy at Tallahatchie River before returning to Memphis and White River, Arkansas on their way to Duvall's Bluff. They marched in pursuit of General Sterling Price for several hundred miles but did not catch him. Sgt. Mertz explains that there was much suffering on this march as the men wore their shoes out and had to forage to survive, calling it "one of the worst marches of the war."

The company then engaged in a battle on December 14 and 15 through "horrid" weather, rain and mud, later giving chase to General John Bell Hood. They gave up the chase at Pulaski when they were reduced almost to starvation. After more marching, they met up with a large amount of Union troops near Mobile, Alabama and participated in taking Spanish Fort, one of Mobile's defenses. This was "the last fight of the war that our company was in."

The company heard of the surrender of General Robert E. Lee's army and the assassination of President Lincoln "near the 20th of April," though they received "nothing authentic until sometime in May." They were in no hurry once they received the order to return to Minnesota for discharge and reached Fort Snelling for discharge, after a speech by a Mayor Price at the capitol, on August 16, 1865. Mertz closes by saying the companyt brough back 54 men.


  • Undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Third Sergeant John George Mertz, United States Army (9/25/1835 - 9/7/1911) was born in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany and lived in Hastings, Minnesota. He was married to Lois O. Mathews and had two children, Agnes and Alden. He served during the Civil War with Company F, 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment from August 15, 1862 until August 16, 1865.


.025 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains a unit history written by Sgt. John G. Mertz, USA after the Civil War. In his personal narrative he writes about his time serving with Company F, 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army.


This is one document consisting of many numbered and unnumbered pages. The pages are kept in their original order, though the third page notes"(To be read last)".

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Sherry Miller.

Finding Aid for the John G. Mertz Civil War unit history
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States