The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 14, 2012

Area Civil War gravesites to get Eagan man's special attention

— An Eagan man’s quest to give Minnesota Civil War soldiers’ deaths their due includes the eventual honoring of two Mankato-area gravesites.

Of the 800 state soldiers killed or fatally wounded in that war, Civil War researcher Ken Flies has identified 18 whose bodies were returned to Minnesota for burial.

Bodies sent home was a rarity, given the daunting and costly logistics of transporting thousands of remains. 

Among the Minnesota 18 are Capt. Asgrim Skaro, buried in St. Peter, and 2nd Lt. John Roberts, buried in Le Sueur.

Flies (pronounced Fleece) said special state funding will enable the placement of new granite markers at the burial sites of the 18.

Moreover, it’s his hope a comprehensive list can eventually be compiled of all state soldiers who died, along with data on where they were killed and the U.S. sites of their graves.

“At least give them the dignity of having their names and burial spots recorded,” said the 70-year-old Flies, a descendant of two men killed in the Civil War.

The gravestone project is under the auspices of the governor’s Soldiers’ Recognition subcommittee, a task force created to coincide with the 150th anniversaries of key Civil War battles that included Minnesotans.

Working with $100,000 in Legacy amendment funding, the task force has identified 18 weathered gravestones in 15 Minnesota counties, and Flies suspects there are several more that he’s eager to sleuth out.

Skaro, buried in Greenhill Cemetery in St. Peter, was killed in the Battle of Nashville on Dec. 16,1864.

His men showed their lofty respect for him by pooling their money to ship him back home, a daunting effort because during winter in Minnesota  there were no trains, no riverboats and roads were nearly impassable.

Roberts, likewise killed at Nashville, was freighted home under similar circumstances.

Flies said gravesite ceremonies for the two men likely will be held in 2014, the 150th anniversary of the battle.

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