Thomas Pressnell

Thomas Pressnell was born in England on Feb. 8, 1843. His family moved to America and he worked before the Civil War for the St. Paul Pioneer newspaper. He joined Company C, First Battalion, of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment on April 18, 1861. Later in the war he was commissioned as an officer and ended it with the rank of captain. Pressnell was wounded several times.

After the war, Pressnell rejoined the Pioneer but in 1869 he came to Duluth and ran the Minnesotian newspaper. He stayed there until 1875. He later served in the U.S. Land Office and was elected clerk of district court. He died on Dec. 10, 1915.

In later years, Pressnell published monthly newspaper accounts of his war experiences. His Dec. 12, 1908, account describes an incident in which he was wounded and fell behind his regiment:

“Upon making an effort to turn over, I found that my left groin was so sore that I could hardly move...(I) concluded that my left leg was shattered and that I was done for. ...Throwing my arms around the necks of Billy on one side and Joe on the other, we started for the rear and in the course of an hour reached the field hospital in charge of Dr. Morton, our regimental surgeon.”

The doctor told him he was likely to fall into the hands of attacking Confederate soldiers. But Pressnell said he “could stand any pain better than the thought of being taken prisoner.” Using a rifle as an improvised crutch, he began limping toward the rear. He recalled: “In this way, with frequent rests, I treaded along until about two o’clock in the morning.” By chance the unit passing him at that time happened to be his own First Minnesota Volunteers and he was taken to a hospital.

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