Baptists and the American Civil War: January 17, 1862

Fort Ripley, Minnesota, 1862

Fort Ripley, Minnesota, 1862

Baptists in the North continue to advance, despite the war. This month, the First Baptist Church of St. Paul, Minnesota opens its new Wacouta Street facility. The second church building constructed by the Baptists of St. Paul, the congregation at this time is 13 years old.

The still-young St. Paul congregation reflects the geographical growth of the nation that is at war. The church in 1849, the year Minnesota became a U.S. territory, was the first Baptist congregation north of Iowa, from the Mississippi River to the Pacifica Ocean. Westward expansion in the decades prior to the war exasperated the debate over slavery and heightened tensions with Indian tribes, the latter leading to the construction of forts to protect American interests. At the same time, westward expansion provided opportunity for Baptists and other Christian denominations and religious groups at large to establish new congregations.

Minnesota, only three years into statehood when the Civil War begins, sends many men to fight for the Union, including some Baptists. For its part, the First Baptist Church of St. Paul grows during the war years and by the 1870s membership approaches 300.

Source: Brief history of the First Baptist Church of St. Paul (link); photography of Fort Ripley, Minnesota, 1862 (link);