Goodhue County, Minnesota


 Civil War Organization of Goodhue County, Minnesota

Both in the Civil and the Spanish-American wars Goodhue County soldiers took an important place. Although the former is becoming a thing of the distant past, the part taken in it by the heroes from this county will never be forgotten, the famous charge of the 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg, under the brave Colonel William Colvill, being one of the fadeless incidents of United States history.

The first war meeting in Goodhue County was held April 25, 1861, at the court house in Red Wing, and was organized by the election of the following officers: President, Hon. W. H. Welch vice-presidents, W. S. Grow and C. H. Baker; secretaries, M. Maginnis and L. F. Hubbard. On motion, a committee of five, consisting of Messrs. L. F. Hubbard, William Colvill, H. B. Wilson, W. C. Williston and George Wilkinson, was appointed to report resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting upon the existing crisis. The audience was entertained until a late hour with stirring speeches by the president, Messrs. McClure, Sorin, Williston, Crary, Colvill, Hoyt, E. A. Welch and others. A call was made for volunteers, which was responded to by upwards of fifty, who placed their names to a paper, "pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in upholding the stars and stripes against the rebellious assaults now made upon them."

William Colvill, then known as William Colvill, Jr., was the first man to enlist in Red Wing and one of the first men to enlist in the state. The story is thus told by Charles N. Akers, of St. Paul, formerly of Red Wing:

"William Colvill wrote his name for the Union army at a meeting held at the court house in Red Wing immediately after the fall of Sumter. The state was then new, and Red Wing a frontier town, but made up of representative Americans. They had at that time almost the only institution of higher learning in the Northwest west of the Mississippi, namely Hamline University. Among the residents of Red Wing at that time were Judge E. T. Wilder, a prince of lawyers; W. W. Phelps, ah orator .for any occasion; Judge Charles McClure, one of the sponsors at the birth of the Republican party, whose clarion voice and patriotic utterances were heard in the constitutional convention as well as many gatherings of a patriotic and religious nature in the early days; Jabez Brooks, profound scholar, who for many years held the chair of Greek in the state university: Edward Eggleston, professor at Hamline and well known the nation over by his "The Hoosier Schoolboy." Then, too, there was the Rev. Peter Akers, whose eloquence so impressed Abraham Lincoln with one of his antislavery sermons that he said: 'Mr. Akers is one of the most impressive preachers I ever heard. Somehow I feel that I will have something to do with the abolition of slavery.' Colonel Robert Ingersoll said that Lincoln's soul took lire on that occasion. Then too there was the Rev. Matthew Sorin, the idol of the rostrum. His words were flaming swords and set fire to all hearts. Of such men and scores of bright young fellows from the village and Hamline University, the meeting was made up. When the call came for volunteers at the close of the appeal, two young men rose and ran over the backs of their seats in their haste to get through the crowd. They were Edward Welch and William Colvill. Welch slipped and fell on the last seat and in falling reached for the pen. But Colvill seized it saying, 'You are next, Ed.' Then followed many others.

"The company thus commenced was the first company outside of the organized state militia to be offered to the governor under his call for one regiment. As soon as the governor's proclamation was issued, enlistments were commenced, and within five days the ranks of the Goodhue county volunteers were full, with men to spare. On Monday, April 22, 1861. the county commissioners being in session, a petition signed by numerous citizens, asking for an appropriation by the county of the sum of five hundred dollars for the support of Goodhue volunteers during the time they are preparing and filling up their ranks, and for the support of their families during their absence, was received, 'whereupon, on motion, the sum of three hundred dollars was appropriated for the purpose.' It was further ordered that a committee of three be appointed to see to the wants of said volunteers and families, and to expend said money, or so much thereof as should be deemed by them necessary, and that the county auditor be authorized to issue orders on the treasury on tin' certificate of said committee for the amounts, which motion prevailed.

 The following' citizens were elected to act as such committee:
W. H. Welch. W. Featherstone, Pascal Smith.

On Tuesday. April 23, 114 men had enlisted, fourteen more than wanted. Friday, the 26th, the company was fully organized and ready for service.

The following was the organization and list of members:


Captain, William Colvill, Jr.
First Lieutenant, A. E. Welch
Second Lieutenant, M. A. Hoyt
First Sergeant, Martin Maginnis
Second Sergeant C. P. Clark;
Third Sergeant, Hezekiah Bruce
Fourth Sergeant, H. T. Bevans
First Corporal, John Barrow
Second Corporal A. E. Scofield
Third Corporal, George Knight
Fourth Corporal, Charles Harris
Bugler, K. N. Bevans


Jonas P. Davis
C. L. Davis
Elijah Thomas
Fred E. Miller
J. C. McClure
J. C. McClenthon
Theodore S. Wood
Robert W. Seeson
Williamson Crary
Paul Nelson
Lewis Cannon
William D. Hubbs
R. C. Barnes
W. AW. Wilson
W. B. Kitchell
Prank Snyder
L. McManus
Edward Ash
J. Ahneman
Asa Howe
W. S. Workman
Fred Crossman
George Harrison
S. B. Dilley
Lewis Quinnell
James A. Wright
Christopher Eastman
C. E. Hudson
William Duling
T. Thompson
E. A. Jackson
J. C. F. Hobart
A. Baniber
J. R. Brown
W. W. Clark
William Gordon
Henry Bennett
D. C. Smith
C. Burgh
C. W. Scott
A. Glazier
A. P. Baker
R. E. Jacobs
S. E. Baldwin
E. F. Grow
F. J. Bachelor
J. M. Underwood
O. W. Sudden
C. W. Mills
Drik Metseder
P. R. Hamlin
J. P. Kirkham
Richard McGee
George Mozer
Jefferson Banner
C. W. Merritt
German Anderson
John Lindquist
John Williams
Ferris Johnson
Hiram J. Rush
M. B. Milliken
John H. Smith
P. T. Galloway
James W. Day
T. G. Leeson
W. D. Bennett
George Atkinson
Charles Adams
George W. Wright
S. B. Nilson
William Esdon
Marion Abbott
George L. Lewis
C. S. Bonderont
E. F. Pitcher
David Schwieger
Edward Berdan
George Noormer
Fred Rembrondt
Hans Hoelstadt
W. C. Riddle
M. S. Standish
William Bryant
P. T. Davidson
E. O. Williams

"Saturday afternoon, April 27, the Goodhue volunteers left Red Wing by the steamer Ocean Wave, for St. Paul and Fort Snelling, where the regiment (the 1st) to which they were assigned, was mustered in. Their departure was witnessed by a speed to the gallant fellows in the glorious mission that called them away. Among the throng were a large number of the relatives and near friends of members of the company, who had large number of citizens, who gathered on the levee to bid God come to give them a parting word of counsel and cheer, and perhaps take the last look upon those they loved. Many an eye dimmed and many a lip quivered as they filed aboard the boat, and not infrequently might have been noticed a tear stealing down the cheeks of those who had just bid farewell to friends. As the boat moved from the levee, the crowd ashore cheered lustily, which was heartily responded to by the volunteers, and amid the waving of flags and handkerchiefs and the hurrahs of the multitude, the Ocean "Wave passed out of sight."

Of the reception at St. Paul of this first company raised in Minnesota and offered as a sacrifice in defense of the integrity and perpetuity of the American Union, the "Press" of May 2 said:

'They were received at the landing by the Pioneer Guards, who escorted them to their temporary quarters in the city. An immense crowd of citizens were at the levee to welcome their arrival, and as the companies filed through the streets to their quarters, the sidewalks were lined with ladies and gentlemen, who kept up a continuous cheer as the brave volunteers passed along. The ranks returned the salutations with hearty goodwill. The Red Wing brass band came up with the company from that place, and added materially to the enthusiasm of the occasion. The company is more than full, and composed of the very bone and sinew of the stalwart farmers of Goodhue County."

No sooner was the above company full, in fact even before its organization was nearly perfected, a movement was started for the organization of a second company in Red Wing, and up to Friday, May 3, fifty names were reported. Patriotic enthusiasm was at fever heat. Saturday evening, the 4th, this second company met and perfected its organization by the election of the following officers:


Captain, A. D. Whitney
First Lieutenant, E. L. Baker
Second Lieutenant, H. Mattson
Third Lieutenant, J. F. Pingrey
First Sergeant, Andrew A. Teele
Second Sergeant, W. E. Hawkins
Third Sergeant, J. H. Mues
Fourth Sergeant, C. R. Brink
First Corporal, C. Berg
Second Corporal, M. J. Chamberlain
Third Corporal, J. S. Allyn
Fourth Corporal, C. C. Johnson
Ensign, W. AY. Phelps
Bugler, J. C. Hawes


F. A. Meredith
T. B. McCord
William Philleo
Charles Betcher
W. P. Brown
L. F. Hubbard
Harvey Miller
A. Johnson
W. C. Williston
Benjamin Densmore
Daniel Densmore
H. B. Wilson
W. W. Rich
T. R Sterling
J. M. Hodgman
S. B. Morrow
L. H. Girard
C. H. Baker
A. Thomas
Allen Swain
W. W. DeKay
C. C. Webster
R N. McLaren
G. W. Baldwin
John Foot D. Mellen
Watts Sherman
H. C. Hoffman
J. Ashton
H. Hickman
D. Heald
F. P. Downing
Herman Betcher

The country districts were not idle. All over the county the people were full of patriotic fervor. Meetings were held in almost every schoolhouse at which spirited addresses were made by the representative men of the county. But few speeches, however, were needed. The flag of the country had been grossly insulted; the people were indignant and resolved that the insult should be resented, even if it took the last man and the last dollar in the northern states to punish the traitors and subdue the rebellion they had inaugurated. And among the people of the patriotic North none were braver or more devoted to the cause of the Union than the sons of Norway and Sweden who had found homes in Goodhue County. Not even native-born Americans made a better record. They were true to their oaths of allegiance and gallantly joined the ranks of the "boys in blue" and marched away to help defend the country of their adoption.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

Source: History of Goodhue County Minnesota, Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, H. C. Cooper Jr, & Company, Chicago, 1909.


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