Sgt. Alonzo Huntingdon Pickle
USCIS Minneapolis Field Office
Sergeant Alonzo Huntingdon Pickle was born on July 2, 1843, in Farnham, Quebec, Canada. In 1855, he moved to Illinois with his family, and two years later, they settled in Olmsted County, Minnesota. He worked on the family farm until he was 19, when he enlisted in Company K, First Minnesota Regiment.
Sergeant Pickle saw his first action in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862, and celebrated his twentieth birthday the following summer on the battlefield in Gettysburg. Sergeant Pickle later said he was one of 47 men who rallied around the unit flag after the battle; the other 215 lay wounded or dead.
The First Minnesota Regiment mustered out in April 1864, and Sergeant Pickle transferred to Company B, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Battalion. He returned to Virginia in August 1864 and fought in the Battle of Deep Bottom. Sergeant Pickle’s unit was ordered to assault, but they could not withstand the enemy’s counterattack. At the height of the battle, Sergeant Pickle’s teammate, Second Lieutenant Henry D. O’Brien, was shot in the right lung while carrying the unit’s flag. As Confederate forces drove the 1st Battalion back, Sergeant Pickle rescued Lieutenant O’Brien. On June 12, 1865, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
The citation reads:
“At the risk of his own life, [he] voluntarily went to the assistance of a wounded officer lying close to the enemy’s lines and, under fire, carried him to a place of safety.”
Sergeant Pickle was also present at General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, where he watched as “many beaten rebel soldiers crossed their lines and surrendered their arms.” He was promoted to first sergeant one month before leaving military service. Sergeant Pickle returned to Minnesota and married Rhoda Jane Smith on October 24, 1867, and together they had six children. He worked as a horse dealer, a brick hauler, and a farmer before opening an insurance and real estate office in the town of Sleepy Eye. He held that job for 32 years. Reports say, “He was the local agent for a number of the leading insurance companies of the country and had a very well-established business in Sleepy Eye.”
He was described as one of the town’s most beloved and respected citizens, and when he died on May 24, 1925, the mayor of Sleepy Eye ordered all businesses to be closed so citizens could attend Sergeant Pickle’s funeral.
He is buried in the Home Cemetery in Home Township, just north of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.