Charles T. Widstrand (1843-1898) came to Minnesota from Sweden in 1855 and was a 17 year old printer in Minneapolis when the war began. He enlisted for 90 days in the First Minnesota in April 1861, then joined the 2nd Company, Minnesota Sharpshooters in December.

He was seriously wounded in the thigh at Antietam, recovered and returned to duty, but left the Company in January 1864 to enlist as a Hospital Steward in the Regular Army.

He married in 1867 but was divorced, with no children, and left the Army in 1872.

He seems to have broken down by the time he was 50 years old. He lived in the Minnesota Soldier’s Home on-and-off from 1893 to 1897. Unfortunately, he was expelled in April 1897 for being drunk – having alcohol on the premises was strictly against the rules. He reported he was “destitute and living on charity” in December that year, but could not gain readmittance to the Home.

Two months later he was found dead in his room at the Bijou Hotel on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis where he’d been living for 5 or 6 months. His death was probably due to an excess of alcohol or laudanum according to the newspaper account.

It seems a sad, lonely end for “an old soldier”. RIP.

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