Friday, February 28, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 28

February 28, 2000 – While participating in the National Governors Association annual meeting at the White House, Minn. Gov. Jesse Ventura responded to a resolution approved by the Virginia Senate urging Minnesota to return a 28th Virginia Infantry flag captured by the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 during Pickett’s Charge.

“Absolutely not,'' Ventura said. ''Why? I mean, we won.''

“The Minnesota Historical Society [had] refused previous requests to return the flag, and its administrators say they have no intention of returning it. That could change if the Minnesota state government, which funds 65 percent of the society's budget, gets involved, but that doesn't seem likely.

'I think to the victor go the spoils,’ Ventura [added].

The 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, a re-enactment group based in the Roanoke area, has tried for years to get back the flag, which features the stars and bars of the Confederate emblem. The group and state lawmakers argue that it's an important part of the state's heritage.

‘But, we took it,’ Ventura cracked. ‘That makes it our heritage. And I can't believe an issue could actually come up from over 150 years ago. And anyone would worry about it. That's why I'm doing it a little tongue in cheek.’

One reason the flag is so coveted is the high casualties suffered. The battle left 80 percent of the 1st Minnesota and 90 percent of the Virginia 28th dead.

Chris Caveness, executive director of the 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, said he still hoped to get the flag back.

‘He hasn't received the resolution yet from the Virginia Assembly, which is to be delivered to the legislature as well as the governor,’ he said. ‘And we hope that cool heads will prevail and the law of the land will be upheld.’

He was referring to a 1905 law declaring that all flags be returned to their originating states. [On July 10, 1998], then-Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III rebuffed a request from Caveness' group, saying the law applied only to flags already in the War Department's possession. He also ruled that the group had no legal standing to request the flag.”

Photo taken at the Minnesota History Center Civil War Exhibit;
March 2–Sept. 8, 2013

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Feb. 28, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

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