Born into slavery in Alabama on July 4, 1838, Henry Mack escaped his master and later served as a soldier with the 57th U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. After the war, Mack moved to Minneapolis – and while he was help up as a living symbol of patriotism during World War II, at least one story suggests that the centenarian was prepared to join the fight when he found out that the Allies had landed on the Normandy Beach in 1944.    At the age of 108, Henry Mack was believed to be the oldest surviving Civil War veteran when he passed away in 1945.

You can read his obituary from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.


Discover the stories of two Minnesotans directly impacted by a more recent conflict – the Vietnam War.

Turns out, Minnesota is home to the Virginia Confederate flag, which was captured during the Battle at Gettysburg, and you can read all about it in “Step into the Complex History of Civil War-Era Minnesota.”

One noteworthy Minnesotan, Dr. Ancel Keys, played a starring role in the World War II effort by inventing the K Ration, a lighter, fit-in-your-pocket solution to keeping soldiers fed on the battlefield. Learn more in “Minnesota Firsts: The K Ration.”

This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.