First Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry
The First Minnesota Infantry was the first unit raised by the state to fight in the Civil War. It was also the first regiment from any state offered for national service. In each engagement, from the First Battle of Bull Run (July 1861), to the Peninsula Campaign (May-June 1862), to Antietam (September 1862), and Fredericksburg (December 1862), the First Minnesota solidified its reputation as one of the most courageous regiments in the Army of the Potomac. Its charge at Gettysburg (July 1863), one of most heralded in the Civil War, played a pivotal role in deciding a Union victory in the battle.
For more on the First Minnesota and its service, see the summary and additional resources listed in the History Topic page. The following manuscript collections are organized by military unit and alphabetized by the last name of the soldier. Each collection title is followed by the soldier's company and regiment number in parentheses, if applicable. Descriptions are brief and may be incomplete. Follow the links below to the Minnesota Historical Society's online catalog and finding aids for full descriptions and call numbers.
- First Minnesota Infantry Regiment Letters and Research Files, 1991 - 1993. This large collection of clippings, obituaries, and copies of letters and diaries was compiled by Richard Moe in preparation for his book, The Last Full Measure: the Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers.
- Regimental Records, First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, 1861 - 1864.
A collection of lists, reports, correspondence, and other papers relating to the Regiment.
- H.S. Rowe, Topographical Map of the Fredericksburg Battlefield, 1862.
Shows positions occupied by the Regiment.
- Howard S. Abbott and Family Papers, 1859 - 1948. (Asa Townsend Abbott, E, 1st)
Letter regarding transfer of Lieutenant Abbott to the Signal Corps.
- Marion Abbott Diary and Genealogical Data, 1861 - 1975. (F, 1st)
Corporal Abbott’s diary covers June - August 1861, including the Battle of Bull Run.
- Edmund Rice and Family Papers. (William Acker, C, 1st)
Includes two September 1861 letters from Acker, later a Captain in the 16th U.S. Infantry, with minimal information on the regiment. Other letters describe the recovery of Acker’s body after his death at the battle of Shiloh.
- Amos Osmon Berry Civil War diary and transcript, 1861-1863 (E, 1st)
Diary covering Berry's service from May 23, 1861 to July 3, 1863. The diary mentions the Battle of Bull Run, a visit by President Lincoln to the troops (July 8, 1862), the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Gettysburg. Includes a typed transcript (1958).
- Henry T. Bevans Papers, 1846, 1861 - 1911. (F, 1st)
Correspondence and clippings cover Sergeant Bevans’ service in the Regiment, commission to Hatch’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry, and resignation for work with the U.S. Secret Service.
- Samuel Bloomer Papers, 1861 - 1920. (B, 1st)
Color Sergeant Bloomer’s letters and diaries describe the battle of Antietam, where he lost a leg.
- Daniel Bond Reminiscences, Undated. (F, 1st)
Based on his diaries, Corporal Bond’s 334 handwritten reminiscences cover his service with the Regiment and Battalion, his capture, and his imprisonment at Andersonville.
- George Boyd and Family Papers, 1852 - 1961. (E, 1st)
Include Lieutenant Boyd’s commissions and Company E muster rolls.
- George R. Buckman Papers, 1863 - 1865. (G, 1st)
Detailed and insightful daily journal of Sergeant Buckman’s service in the Second Corps Hospital following Gettysburg through his muster out at Fort Snelling.
- Alfred P. Carpenter Letter, July 30, 1863. (K, 1st)
Transcript of July 30, 1863 letter describing Carpenter's Gettysburg experiences.
- George E. Collins Letter, June 6, 1861.
Bandsman Collins’ letter from Fort Snelling of June 6, 1861.
- William Colvill Biographical Sketches and Letters, , 1933-1936.
Reminiscences of the Regiment’s colonel at Gettysburg.
- Charles E. Davis Letters, 1859 - 1866. (I, E, & C, 1st)
Nearly 200 detailed letters of this sergeant, regimental sergeant major and later officer include information on the regiment’s training, daily activities, politics, and campaigns.
- G. Merrill Dwelle and Family Papers, 1843 - 1896. (L, 1st)
Descriptive letters and diary include activities of the Regiment during the Peninsular Campaign. (A second diary has a bullet hole from Antietam.)
- Thomas Dwelle Papers, 1861 - 1863. (K, 1st)
Typescript of Dwelle's 1862 diary and copies of medical furlough papers.
- Biographical data on Hattie Augusta Roberts Eaton, 1930, 1934. (William Eaton, H, 1st)
Account of service in the Regiment and as a prisoner of war.
- Jerome Farnsworth and Family Papers, 1861 - 1902. (G, 1st)
Around 20 letters covering May, 1861 - July, 1863 until his death at Gettysburg.
- Autobiographical Reminiscences of Everett W. Foster, 1933. (I, 1st)
Reminiscences of Foster's two months' service with the Regiment in 1861. The collection (call number P939: Foster, Everett W.) can be viewed in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
- Joseph P. Garrison and Family Papers, 1859 - 1863, 1996. (F, 1st)
Photocopies of letters from Fort Snelling and Virginia plus condolence letters from others in the Regiment following Garrison’s wounding and capture at Bull Run and subsequent death in Richmond.
- Orrin F. Smith and Family Papers, 1829 - 1932. (Charles Goddard, K, 1st)
Around 113 letters from young Charles Goddard to his mother contain excellent trivia on life in the Regiment.
- Hanford L. Gordon Papers, 1868 - 1920. (D, 1st)
General materials on the Regiment and service of Gordon, later of literary note.
- Willis A. Gorman and Family Papers, 1847 - 1899.
Collection includes correspondence relating to Gorman’s 1861 tenure as Regimental commander.
- Mortimer Robinson and Family Papers, 1859 - 1874. (Seth Hammon, D, 1st) Lieutenant Hammon's copybook, dated November 1861 through October 1863, with numerous letters from unit members, plus additional material on Hammon, who served as a drummer boy. The papers (call number M66) can be viewed in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
- Philip Rice Hamlin and Jacob Leslie Hamlin Papers, 1861 - 1865. (Phillip Rice Hamlin, F)
Letters of Corporal, Sergeant and later First Sergeant Hamlin from 1861 to a few days before his death at Gettysburg. Letters from soldiers to his parents discuss his death.
- Christopher B. Heffelfinger Papers, 1861 - 1929. (D, 1st)
Lieutenant Heffelfinger’s letters include a lengthy description of Bull Run.
- John T. Hoblit Civil War Diary and Related Papers, 1861 - 1862. (D, 1st)
Diary covers 1861 at Camp Stone and the battle of Balls Bluff.
- Return Ira Holcombe Papers, 1859 - 1916.
Papers of St. Paul writer and editor include a manuscript regimental history, published in 1912.
- John Franklin Hoyt Papers, 1855 - 1886. (Mark A. Hoyt, F, 1st)
Detailed sketch and illustrated manuscript journal of the Peninsular Campaign until quartermaster Lieutenant Hoyt’s resignation for disability in July of 1862.
- Charles William Hughes Letter and Diary, 1862, 1864. (D, 1st)
Includes a November 1862 letter and an 1864 diary of his experience as a teamster with the Sully Expedition.
- Sketch of the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. (Javan B. Irvine, A, 1st)
Sketch map of portions of the Bull Run battlefield showing locations of the Regiment during the battle.
- Biographical data on Josias Ridgate King, 1863 - 1916. (A, 1st)
Primarily newspaper clippings recounting King’s service.
- William Larned and Family Papers, 1849 - 1866. (C, 1st)
Short typescript accounts of Lieutenant Larned’s service in the Regiment and the Mounted Rangers, plus his Fisk Expedition diary.
- William Lochren and Family Papers, 1852 - 1925. (E, K, 1st)
Includes material on Sergeant and later Lieutenant Lochren’s service with the Regiment and a unit history.
- Adam Marty Correspondence, 1861 - 1919. (B, 1st)
Seven letters from Corporal Marty giving his perspective on the war, his officers and describing actions at Ball’s Bluff and Harpers Ferry.
- Matthew Marvin Papers, 1861 - 1895. (K, 1st)
About 60 letters and 3 diaries plus postwar letters from Marvin attempting to obtain pensions for fellow veterans of the Regiment.
- Harry G. Benton and Family Papers, 1862 - 1894, 1953. (John McEwen, A, 1st)
A June 22, 1862 letter from McEwen discusses the Battle of Fair Oaks.
- Ard Godfrey and Family Papers, 1839 - 1945. (Lewis Meeker, D, 1st)
The papers contain a letter written by Meeker in June of 1862 from Camp Lincoln in Richmond, Virginia.
- Anton and Louis Muller Letters, 1860, 1861. (B, 1st)
Two letters in German with translations.
- Charles Muller, History of the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, Company A. (A, 1st)
Handwritten description of the Gettysburg Campaign prepared in later life. The collection (call number CCT.M958) can be viewed in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
- Edward Z. Needham Papers, 1861 - 1865. (G, 1st)
Microfilm of diaries and papers by Needham include descriptions of Bull Run.
- Edward D. Neill and Family Papers, 1786-1931.
Detailed letters of Presbyterian Minister Neill who served as regimental chaplain until July 1862 and as a personal secretary to Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, 1864 - 1865. Most are to his family and in a difficult-to-read hand.
- Joseph A. Wheelock and Family Papers, 1719, 1756, 1803 - 1906. (Edward Neill)
Includes letters from Chaplain Neill.
- Harrington and Merrill Family Papers, 1732 - 1963. (Lloyd Pendergast, D & I, 1st)
Includes many letters dated 1861 to 1865, including a detailed account of the Battle of Bull Run. Pendergast transferred to the US Cavalry in October 1862.
- William Wirt Pendergast and Family Papers, 1816 - 1986. (Lloyd Pendergast, D & I, 1st)
Collection includes several letters, most dated after Lloyd’s transfer to the US Cavalry.
- Charles E. McColley, The Story of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg. (Ellet Perkins, D, 1st)
Manuscript about the Regiment at Gettysburg includes details about Ellet Perkins. The collection (call number FE515.5) can be viewed in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
- Thomas H. Pressnell Incidents in the Civil War. (C, 1st)
Twelve detailed papers delivered to Grand Army of the Republic veteran audiences cover the Regiment’s service.
- Elias H. Connor Papers, 1858 - 1886. (Frank Rollins, D, 1st)
Includes two letters from Rollins.
- Robert L. Morris and Jasper N. Searles Papers, 1861 - 1865. (H, K, G, 1st)
About 25 of Searles’ letters to his family in Hastings detail life in the Regiment, particularly 1861-1862, plus his incomplete 1861 diary.
- Myron Shepard Diaries, 1862 - 1864. (B, F & H, 1st)
Three diaries written by Sergeant, later Lieutenant Shepard.
- DeWitt Smith Papers, 1861 - 1864. (D, 1st)
Letters and documents of Captain Smith, later a paymaster and killed by guerillas.
- Biographical Data on Isaac and Patrick Taylor (E, 1st)
An 1861 and an 1864 letter, plus newspaper clippings and biographical notes.
- Joseph G. Trevor Diary, 1862. (E, 1st)
Diary records movements during the Peninsular and Maryland Campaigns, May to December 1862.
- Abraham Edward Welch and Family Papers, 1830 - 1879. (F, 1st)
Documents on Lieutenant Welch’s career with the Regiment including wounding and capture at the Battle of Bull Run. Welch later served in the Dakota War and as a major in the Fourth Minnesota.
- Alexander Wilkin and Family Papers, 1819 - 1864. (A, 1st)
Correspondence of Captain Wilkin, later promoted to major and transferred to the Second Minnesota, and later colonel of the Ninth Minnesota until killed in action at Iuka.
- Fletcher Williams Papers, 1849 - 1894 (Alexander Wilkin, A, 1st)
Williams' papers contain a biographical sketch of Colonel Wilkin.
- James A. Wright Papers, 1907 - 1914, (F, 1st)
Includes Lieutenant Wright’s typescript history (The Story of C. F, First Regiment) of the company in which he served as corporal, sergeant and first sergeant. Published as No More Gallant A Deed. Also correspondence related to writing the history.