The Men

• • •

Rev. Edward Duffield Neill

When the call for troops came in April of 1861, Reverend Edward Duffield Neill, age 37, was serving as Chancellor of the University of Minnesota.  He volunteered to be the chaplain of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.

Edward Neill

Chaplain Edward Duffield Neill served as the regiment's first chaplain. He later served as President Lincoln's personal secretary. (Wayne Jorgenson)

Ed was born in Philadelphia on Aug 9, 1823. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1842 graduated from Amherst College. He studied theology in Andover, Massachusetts, and in Philadelphia, becoming a minister of the Presbyterian Church.   At his request he was transferred to St Paul in 1849 and ministered at the House of Hope Church until 1860.  In 1858 he was appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Minnesota and in 1860 he became the Chancellor of the University of Minnesota, an appointment that required him to step down from the church’s ministry.

On June 22, 1861, Reverend Neill led services for the men of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Fort Snelling. Afterward the men march from the fort through to the streets of St Paul and to the state capital building where they were presented with a flag from the women of St. Paul which they carried through Bull Run and beyond.

Chaplain Neill served with the 1st through the Battle of Malvern Hill, leaving the regiment on July 13, 1862 when he was appointed Hospital Chaplain for the Union Army, an appointment arranged by Governor Alexander Ramsey. He served at the Philadelphia area military hospitals.

In January 1864, Edward became Lincoln’s private secretary.  As such he was to open and arrange all correspondence, and to sign land patents for the President.  After Lincoln’s assassination he stayed on and served as secretary to President Andrew Johnson, a position he held until appointed by President Grant in 1869 to be the US Consul to Ireland.

In 1870 he resigned from governmental service and returned to Minnesota.  In 1873 he became President of Macalester College.  He stepped down from the presidency in 1884, but stayed at Macalester as professor of history, literature and political economy until his death in 1893.

In addition, and even while the Civil War was raging, he was Secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society from 1851-63. He authored numerous books including “The History of Minnesota” in 1858, which was reprinted in 1882. He also wrote the “History of Hennepin County” in 1881, including a biographical sketch about himself. He was instrumental in the building of Christ Church in Minneapolis and served as its minister for many years.

Married to Nancy Hall on Oct 4, 1847, at Snow Hill, Vermont, they had five children born prior to the war: Minnesota (3/28/50), Samuel (12/10/52) , Henry (4/15/55), Edward (8/1/58) and John (3/25/60).

He died at age 70 on September 26, 1893 in St. Paul. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in St Paul.


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The Men

Charles Goddard

Charlie Goddard was born in Pennsylvania May 14, 1845 to Catherine and Abner Goddard. He was the only child of nine that survived childhood.More »

Edward Bassett

Edward Bassett was just 19 when he was mustered into Company G of the 1st Minnesota on April 29, 1861 as a private. His family moved west, settling in Morristown, Minnesota in the south central part of the state.More »

Mathew Marvin

Mathew Marvin was born on September 21, 1838 in Connaston, New York. In 1859 at the age of 19, Matthew moved to Winona, Minnesota where he worked as a clerk for J. J. Randall & Co, a leather goods store. More »

Samuel Stebbins

Samuel was born in Brookline, Vermont on April 30, 1830. Upon reaching his majority, he travelled quite extensively and worked at a variety of occupations before purchasing a farm near Winona, Minnesota in the fall of 1856. More »

The Timeline


Apr 12

Confederates open fire on Fort Sumter.

In Washington, Governor Alexander Ramsey pledges 1000 Minnesota troops to President Lincoln, the first troops pledged.

Apr 15

President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops.

Apr 27

The ten companies of the 1st Minnesota report to Fort Snelling.

Jun 22

The 1st leaves for Washington D.C., arriving on June 26.

Jul 21

The 1st sees combat at the Battle of Bull Run. One of the last regiments to leave the battlefield, the 1st suffered the highest casualties of any Union regiment with 48 killed, 83 wounded, 23 wounded and missing, and 30 missing.

Oct 21

The 1st is lightly engaged at the Battle of Ball's Bluff.

More »