John Wolcott Phelps Correspondence
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John Wolcott Phelps was born in Guilford, Vermont and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1836. On May 2, 1861, Phelps was appointed Colonel of the 1st Vermont Infantry and was mustered into U.S. service on May 8. He was promoted...
Show moreJohn Wolcott Phelps was born in Guilford, Vermont and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1836. On May 2, 1861, Phelps was appointed Colonel of the 1st Vermont Infantry and was mustered into U.S. service on May 8. He was promoted to brigadier general on May 27, 1861. General Phelps was stationed at Camp Parapet in Carrollton, seven miles from New Orleans. Many fugitive slaves arrived at the camp seeking refuge. Phelps sought to create three regiments of black soldiers, but his commanding officer, General Butler, ordered that they be made laborers. Unwilling to employ the Africans as mere laborers, General Phelps offered his resignation on August 21, 1862. General Butler refused to accept it. Later that August, General Phelps returned his commission to President Abraham Lincoln. Phelps went on to become the candidate for the American Party/Anti-Masonic Party for president in 1880. The collection includes 17 letters from family friend Gov. Frederick Holbrook and his son William C. Holbrook, major and later colonel of the 7th Vermont. Gov. Holbrook wrote about the recruitment of the 7th Vermont, the appointments of Colonel George T. Roberts, William Holbrook, and other officers, the character of Vermont soldiers, and his attempts to influence federal war policy. Both of the Holbrooks corresponded with Phelps about General Butler's censure of the 7th Vermont after the battle of Baton Rouge. Gov. Erastus Fairbanks wrote on similar topics, and about allegations of misconduct by surgeons in the 1st Vermont. Other correspondents include Senators Justin S. Morrill and George F. Edmunds, Congressman Frederick E. Woodbridge, and Capt. E.V.N. Hitchcock on the condition of the 7th Vermont at Santa Rosa Island in March 1863, Major Harry N. Worthen concerning sick soldiers of the 1st Vermont at Fort Monroe, and Capt. Charles W. Seaton of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters, concerning the promotion of William Ripley to Lieutenant Colonel of that regiment.