Controversy over symbols and relics leftover from the American Civil War is hardly new. Earlier this year editorial and journalistic outrage was directed at supporters of the Confederate battle flag; but now in Minnesota a new angle on Civil War controversy is brewing. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, wants up to six paintings of Civil War events currently displayed in the state Capitol potentially removed to less visible locations.
None of the paintings present Confederate forces in a positive light, and none of them feature a Confederate battle flag. In fact, each painting depicts Minnesota soldiers bravely charging into battle or enduring the dreary monotony of long foot marches as they wage war to preserve the union and end slavery.
According to a local CBS television station:
“Governor Mark Dayton first raised the issue of violence depicted in the historic paintings hanging in the reception room outside his office. Some of those paintings and other military artifacts could be removed, or taken to less visible locations.”
That sentiment isn’t sitting well with Major Gen. Rick Nash, the Army officer in charge of the Minnesota National Guard. “War was no less horrible in 1861 than it is today,” he told CBS.
Dayton has never served in the military, was a Vietnam War protester, voted against authorizing the Iraq War while serving as a U.S. Senator, and introduced legislation in the Senate to create a cabinet-level federal Department of Peace and Nonviolence. The Democratic governor first expressed reservations about the Civil War artwork in January 2014, and the issue surfaced again in July of this year and then again just days ago.
The conservative media outlet RightWisconsin.com in a neighboring state named Dayton a “Loser of the Day” for “For dishonoring both history and the sacrifice of thousands of his state’s residents who fought in the Civil War.”
Presented below are the six Civil War paintings that offend Gov. Dayton.
Soldiers of the 5th and 9th Minnesota Regiments assault Confederate positions at the Battle of Nashville in 1864. This painting presently hangs in the Governor’s Reception Room of the Minnesota Capitol.
Members of the 4th Minnesota Regiment march into Vicksburg, Mississippi in July 1863. This painting hangs in the Governor’s Reception Room of the Minnesota Capitol.
The 2nd Minnesota Regiment charges at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863; painting hangs in the Governor’s Reception Room.
The 2nd Minnesota surges forward at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863; artwork presently hangs in Governor’s Reception Room.
The 3rd Minnesota marches into Little Rock, Arkansas in 1862; this painting also hangs in the Governor’s Reception Room.
The 5th Minnesota Regiment heroically fights at Corinth, Mississippi in 1862; hanging in the Governor’s Reception Room.
For a full catalog of Minnesota Capitol artwork and to see fuller descriptions of these paintings, the state of Minnesota has prepared this helpful guide to Capitol artwork.