Baptists and the American Civil War: August 15, 1861

Abraham Edward Welch, Union Officer

Abraham Edward Welch, Union Officer

In a tobacco warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, imprisoned Union officers captured at the Battle of Manassas / Bull Run await their fate. Among the prisoners until a few days ago was Abraham Edward Welch of Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1st Lieutenant of Company F of the First Minnesota Infantry, son of a former chief justice of the supreme court the Minnesota territory. The former prisoner, rather than awaiting release, managed to escape. And today, the Richmond Dispatch tells the story of Welch’s re-capture in two separate stories:

AN ESCAPED PRISONER. – Rev. Newton Short, a Baptist clergyman, of Henrico, fell in yesterday with a suspicious looking military character on the Meadow Ridge, about six miles from Richmond. He said that he was going to Old Church to see a man named Carpenter. and as he was altogether out of the way for such a destination, and no such man as Carpenter was there, Mr. Short suspected that he was an escaped prisoner, and, after a little more questioning, accused him of it, which he stoutly denied, of course, but afterwards admitted that he was a Yankee Lieutenant, escaped from one of the tobacco factories on Main street. Mr. Short compelled him to return to town, and delivered him up to the proper authorities. The prisoner stated that a number of others had also escaped.

Recaptured. – A Yankee officer, named Welch, who succeeded in escaping from Harwood’s tobacco factory, a few days ago, by the rear, having eluded the guard and obtained access to the open air through the kitchen of the establishment, was captured yesterday by the Rev. Mr. Short, living six miles beyond Richmond, and returned to his old quarters. Welch had no shoes on or shirt. His military dress coat being without buttons, had been tied up with strings. He professed to be making his way to Hanover Court House to collect a debt due by a man named Carpenter. He was at first directed how to proceed, but his appearance exciting suspicion, he was detained and brought to town.

On September 21 Welch and about 250 other Union prisoners are sent to New Orleans to be paroled. Returning to action, Welch serves bravely but suffers two wounds during the war, then falls ill and dies of sickness in Nashville on February 1, 1864, at the age of 25.

The town of Grant in Goodhue County, Minnesota (settled in 1857) in 1872, is renamed “Welch” in honor of Abraham Edward Welch.

Source: (link); also read more about the town of Welch (link)