NU Battery shares history at Historic Kiesling House

Only town-based Civil War-era militia still existing

Staff photo by Fritz Busch New Ulm Battery members from left, Bruce Olson, Gibbon; Bryce Stenzel, St. Clair; John Fritsche, New Ulm; and Glenn Huhn, New Ulm share the history of the organization outside the Historic Kiesling House Saturday, Aug. 18.

NEW ULM — Members of the New Ulm Battery, the only town-based Civil War-era militia still in existence in the United States, interacted with the audience and shared the history of the organization at the Historic KIesling House on Saturday.

The organization formed to protect New Ulm in the aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. While no futher attacks ever came, the City continues to maintain the Battery for more than a century.

The Battery stands as a symbol for the City of New Ulm. It is used extensively for dedications, parades and educational purposes.

First Lieutenant John Fritsche has been with the Battery for more than 50 years. He takes a lot of pride in the fact that the Battery still uses horses and original Civil War era equipment.

“Our boss is the mayor of New Ulm. He’s the one who would tell us what to do, if we had to be called out or anything,” Fritsche said. “We’re keeping the history up of what happened here and preserving the guns. We were strictly organized to defend New Ulm.”

The Battery has been called to action since the U.S.-Dakota War. In the 1930s, it was activated to help quell riots and control protestors in Tracy after a railroad labor dispute caused unrest there.

In 1866, the Battery prevented a Mankato mob from burning down New Ulm after two trappers were mistaken for Native Americans. They were hanged from the town’s lamp posts after a drunken bar fight, during which a bartender was stabbed to death and another man was axed to death.

The trappers escaped with their lives but were injured. They went to the jail looking for protection and got it. A crowd formed outside and demanded the two men. As the crowd grew, the sheriff called the New Ulm Battery.

The Battery regularly fires its cannon for May Day and when new monuments are christened on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds.

In addition, the Battery participates in many southern Minnesota parades and two annual parades in New Ulm, among other activities.

Anyone interested in joining the Battery can email newulmbattery@yahoo.com

fbusch@nujournal.com

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