The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 8, 2013

Turning Point: Civil War Symposium benefits continued effort to restore Boy in Blue

MANKATO — When Bryce Stenzel first announced his intention to rebuild Mankato’s Boy in Blue memorial in 2011, he knew a long road lay ahead.

But he and a small but dedicated team of committee members continue making strides toward the $100,000 goal that would rebuild the monument to Blue Earth County’s Civil War veterans that was toppled in a storm and discarded in 1911.

In less than two years, the committee has managed to raise about one-quarter of the project’s cost -- enough to start the replication in earnest.

“We have to have it constructed from the ground up,” Stenzel said, noting that the committee has discovered the company, Robinson Iron of Alabama, that owns the original blueprints. “Now, we’ve got enough to start the foundation.”

It’s a small victory for the Boy in Blue project organizers who are hosting the second annual Civil War Symposium on March 23. Of the $25 registration fee, $15 will be contributed directly to the Boy in Blue memorial.

The event includes a full lineup of local and regional speakers, costumed interpreters and storytellers. And a range of subjects will be covered, from battle specifics to Confederate women to more local events like the removal of the Hochunk people following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1962.

New this year is the Sanitary Fair Bazaar, which is a recreation of the events that served as a sort of silent auction for Union communities to raise money for the war effort (see accompanying story).

“There is still a lot to explore with the Civil War,” said Julie Schrader, owner of Minnesota Heritage Publishing and fellow project organizer. “We tried to appeal to everybody.”

This year’s event focuses on the year 1863, which is commonly held as the year that the war turned in the Union’s favor.

Jefferson Spilman, supervisor of The Landing in Shakopee, is giving a presentation on Minnesota’s legendary First Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He became interested in the regiment that won lasting fame at Gettysburg for its brave charge into the teeth of a Confederate advance when he moved to New Ulm while still in high school.

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