Trump, apparently unaware of the state’s sacrifice in the Civil War, hailed Lee during a speech in Bemidji on Friday as a “great general” who “won many, many battles in a row.”
"[Lincoln] was getting beaten a lot by Robert E Lee. They want to rip down his statue all over the place … he would have won except for Gettysburg … these were incredible things" — Trump praises the top general who fought on behalf on slavery pic.twitter.com/7dnzZ9nQJV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 19, 2020
Some 2,500 Minnesota soldiers lost their lives to battles and disease as they fought against slavery and to protect the Union.
“Had [Lee] won, we would be two countries,” state Sen. Jerry Newton, a veteran who served in the Vietnam War and in the Middle East, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Saturday. “That’s just unconscionable for me, for him to make those statements.”
Trump’s praise for Lee “hurt for those of us who have served and who have lost friends in the service,” Newton added.
The state senator’s great-grandfather fought for the Union against treasonous Confederate troops before moving to Minnesota, where he settled down using land grants offered to Civil War veterans.
Trump claimed at his rally that he would protect monuments to Lee. There are none in Minnesota. But a historical museum does display a Confederate flag that state troops captured from the enemy.
Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said in a statement that “the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of Minnesota’s brave soldiers helped turn the tide at Gettysburg … We will not allow Donald Trump to divide us and insult our state’s proud legacy.”
Minnesota soldiers played a key role on the bloody fields of Gettysburg.
Minnesota Gov. Alexander Ramsey was the first to offer troops to President Abraham Lincoln after the Confederacy’s assault on Fort Sumter in Charleston, which launched the Civil War in 1861. Some 1,000 men from the new state were initially deployed to battle Southern troops. By war’s end, close to 24,000 Minnesota soldiers had served.
An outnumbered unit of about 262 Minnesotans charged at close to 1,200 Confederate troops at Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. The attack was aimed at buying the Union time to move reinforcements into the area.
“It’s essentially suicidal to do that, and still Minnesota troops did that,” Randal Dietrich, director of the Minnesota Military Museum, told The Star Tribune. “I would argue Minnesotans … arguably saved the battle of Gettysburg. Their gallantry on that day is extraordinary.”
Hillary Clinton won Minnesota’s 10 electoral college votes in the last presidential election.
Twitter critics speculated that Trump forgot he was in a former Union state as he tried to woo voters by praising Lee.
He does know he's in the North right? I live in MN, nobody here gives a sh!t about confederate statues.
— 🇺🇸Riogirl9909🇵🇹 (@riogirl9909) September 19, 2020
In Minnesota, noted redoubt of the confederacy.
— kevin “pidgin” collins (@voxkev) September 19, 2020
Weird to pitch the Confederacy to Minnesota…the first state to volunteer soldiers to Lincoln and the Union.
— maureen (@maureen1255) September 19, 2020
Lee was a traitor to the United States of America, you idiot. A murderous traitor who wanted to keep slavery as the law of the land. https://t.co/SXUlW1lxjN
— Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP (@JayGordonMDFAAP) September 20, 2020
Is this the “Patriotic History” he wants to be taught in the schools?
— Louise (@clwtweet) September 19, 2020
Yes going for the confederacy voting block in Minnesota? pic.twitter.com/0Imx3TECBo
— Russ Coats (@CoatsRuss) September 19, 2020
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