August 2, 1956: Albert Woolson, last surviving Union soldier, dies in Duluth

On this day in 1956, Albert Woolson—the last surviving union soldier of the Civil War—died in Duluth, the city he first moved to in 1862. He was either 106 or 109 years old. According to most accounts, Woolson was born in Watertown, New York, on February 11, 1850 (others say he was born in 1847 or 1848, and one Ancestry.com account claims he was born in Yoro, Honduras.) Woolson joined the Union Army as a “volunteer private” in October 1864. He was assigned to Company C of the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment, detailed to the drum corps—Albert Woolsen was a drummer boy. He saw no action, but witnessed Sherman’s March. Woolson lived most of his life in Duluth at 215 East 5th Street. Woolson belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union Civil War veteran’s group; when he died, the group was dissolved. When he was 105, he recommended the following for a long life: 1. exercise, used judiciously, 2. not worrying over trifles, and 3. due respect for the laws of nature, such as not overeating. “Moderation in all things; that goes for whiskey, women, and food.” His life was honored by one of the largest funerals ever held in Duluth, at the Armory on London Road. A statue of him stands at Gettysburgh, representing the entire Grand Army of the Republic; a replica of that statue can be found outside Duluth’s Union Depot. Read more about Woolson here.

Albert Woolsen. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

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