A soldier’s story

HENDRICKS?- A soldier of the First Minnesota Regiment came with his uniform and gear to the Hendricks School on Friday to show students what life was like for a soldier in the Civil War.

Charlie Goddard of Winona was brought to life by Daryl Jorgenson, a historic interpreter for the Minnesota Historical Society. Jorgenson told Goddard’s story with the aid of uniforms, field equipment and surgical tools of the time.

Goddard was a boy born with a love of adventure, according to Jorgenson. At age 9, he swam across the Mississippi River at Winona, racing against men in boats trying to rescue him.

At age 15, his insatiable thirst for adventure led him to lie about his age and enlist in the first contingent of Union soldier from Minnesota.

“Alexander Ramsey was the second governor of Minnesota, and the first to promise Abraham Lincoln soldiers to fight for the Union,” Jorgenson said.

Goddard was sent with his best friend, also named Charlie, for training at Fort Snelling, and from there to Washington, D.C.

Jorgenson explained to the students that we know Goddard from the letters he wrote to his mother Catherine and his little brother Orrin.

“I am not in any danger,” Goddard wrote. “I wish I was in more danger so I could fight some of those secession soldiers and get the war over and come home to Winona.”

On the way to the First Battle of Bull Run, the first battle of the Civil War and a terrible defeat for the Union, Goddard came down with dysentery and was evacuated to a hospital where a doctor tried to discharge him as underage.

Goddard instead returned to his unit and later took part in the Battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded in the leg and shoulder. Out of 262 soldiers of the First Minnesota who faced 2,000 Confederates, only 47 survived the battle.

Goddard and his friend Charlie survived the war and returned home to Winona. Charlie, though pained with his wounds to the end of his days, lived to the age of 72.

Goddard died of tuberculosis after the war at age 23.