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Art project honors African American Civil War soldiers from Minnesota

"It's up to us to recover these stories because they're some of America's best stories," said Markus Krueger of Clay County's Historical & Cultural Society.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Fort Snelling staff are hoping a public art project will help educate people and commemorate the service of African American soldiers who served in the Civil War and enlisted in Minnesota.

"Minnesota historians have compiled a list of over 100 African American men who joined the U.S. Army from Minnesota and we are making a print for each one of them," Markus Krueger said. 

Krueger works for the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County in Moorhead and said it's time these stories are told.

"It's up to us to recover these stories because they're some of America's best stories," Krueger said.

Among the spotlighted men is a soldier by the name of Felix Battles.

"One hundred fifty-eight years ago...Felix Battles was here at Fort Snelling and he was enlisting in the United States Army. Felix was born enslaved in Mississippi. He escaped slavery before the Civil War and fought in the United States Army. He was one of the original founders of the town of Moorhead, Minnesota," Krueger said. "There are no known photographs of Felix Battles, so what we did is take a photo of an unidentified African American United States soldier during the Civil War and we have him [stand] in for Felix Battles and, today, that unidentified soldier is standing in for every Minnesotan of African descent who fought in this war."

Soon, a statue will honor Felix Battles as well. The statue is expected to be in place on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus this spring.

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