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Vermonters in the Civil War

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Collection Overview

Vermont soldiers in the Civil War wrote an enormous quantity of letters and diaries, of which many thousands have survived in libraries, historical societies, and in private hands. This collection represents a selection of letters and diaries from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society.

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Time Period Covered: January 1, 1861 - February 28, 1864 


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Browsing by:    Format: ("text") remove term  Topic: ("Confederate States of AmericaArmy") remove term

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Title:   Bradford Sparrow to Parents and Brothers

Creator:  Sparrow, Bradford

Date:  1864-02-12

Resource type:   correspondence

Writes his health is good, there was a battle on the Rapidan on the 5th, orders given to move out, he on picket duty to remain, could hear the muskets firing, reads in the newspaper Rebels panic stricken in Richmond by Butler's approach, hears talk of moving Confederate capital to Columbia, South Carolina, paymaster in camp, will send money home, has played cards on picket duty to pass the time, thinks folks at home have gotten his picture (photo), expresses appreciation for berries sent.

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    Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

    Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

    Date:  1862-03-30

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include the journey from Annapolis to Harpers Ferry, Henry Smith's good health, liking the hand made shirt he received from home very much, keeps his brandy with him, burning of the post office by the Confederates, requests more postage stamps.

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      Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

      Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

      Date:  1862-05-27

      Resource type:   correspondence

      From Williams Post, Maryland Smith writes 2 letters one dated May 27 and one May 28. (First Battle of Winchester, May 25, 1862). Topics include a terrible battle in and near Winchester in which he escaped injury, of many men from the regiment being lost but many returning to camp the next day, rebels suffering great losses, mentions General Shields, General Fremont and General Banks, cautions given to his siblings at home regarding being in and near the water.

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        Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

        Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

        Date:  1862-06-07

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include the defeat and retreat of the regiment to Williamsport (Battle of Harrisonburg?? June 6), telling of southern woman firing upon union soldiers, of the shooting death of a drummer boy by a southern woman, description of a rebel regiment's clothing recognized as the Louisiana Tigers, transporting the sick and wounded by wagon to hospitals, a summary of the men who were lost or wounded.

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          Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

          Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

          Date:  1862-07-05

          Resource type:   correspondence

          From Snickers Ferry on the Shenandoah River topics include news from Richmond, rumor that Stonewall Jackson was killed, having enough to eat including local peaches & cherries found in Virginia, horses well fed, men on picket duty, newspaper report that General McClellan taken prisoner along with 40,000 of his men, and Henry Smith's homesickness.

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            Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

            Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

            Date:  1862-08-14

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Six miles south of Culpeper (Virginia) two letters included dated Aug 15 and Aug 15. Topics include an exchange of fire near the Orange Court House, the numerous rebel deaths, injuries, and prisoners, and another terrible battle at Culpeper with references to Jackson, Banks and John Pope.

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              Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

              Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

              Date:  1862-09-24

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include Henry Smith losing his horse, camp punishment of John H. Willard for disobeying an order, and the numerous men who were wounded and killed.

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                Title:   John Lester Barstow to Father

                Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                Date:  1862-12-28

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Writes of fleeing of Rebels to Texas, the destruction and loss of property near New Orleans, his observations about the area where he is & the hardships of wartime he has experience, placement of the pickets, richness of the soil, high value of the sugar crop and Barstow’s belief that the war must not end until the Union is restored.

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                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                  Date:  1865-02-19

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topic include spending time with General Grant, speculating about the war, interaction between the Union and Rebel pickets, story about a particular rebel deserter that brings hope to Rutherford about the nearing conclusion of the war, reference to Dr. Thayer & his complimentary opinion of Rutherford, telling to a long absence (absent with out leave?) of a doctor that may lead to an opening for advancement for Rutherford.

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                    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                    Date:  1863-04-28

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Writing from camp 2 miles from Poolesville, Maryland topics include Rutherford reassuring Hannah that his life style is comfortable while in camp, the rebels are building fortifications across the river that the regiment plans to break down with cannon fire, finally receiving the pay, sending $400 home and sorting out house payments.

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                      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                      Date:  1863-07-07

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Writing two letters dated July 7th and 8th from South Mountain Pass, Maryland topics include the deplorable state of Rebel prisoners captured, the kindness of the Vermont Regiment towards the prisoners by giving the Confederates their rations, prisoners marching to Washington, D. C., his reflections on the battle at South Mountain that took place September 1862, Union destruction of Rebel pontoon bridges, one time the troops rejoice at the heavy rain as it keeps the river high and having potatoes and fresh berries to eat.

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                        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                        Date:  1863-10-09

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Topics include the railroad (Iron horse) in Rutherford’s hometown (Newport, Vt.?), cautioning keeping the children away from the railroad cars, daughter Helen and a Mrs. Bachelder are sick, pleasantly surprised over the low cost of the water well dug at home, the importance of receiving letters from home often, of a grand review of the troops and the prospect of a fight as the Confederate officer J.E.B. Stuart is to the rear & a part of the division has been sent to stop his advance.

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                          Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                          Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                          Date:  1862-12-30

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include the whole brigade on picket duty on Bull Run, a catholic church having been emptied of its pews so as to used for a hospital, a brief encounter with Rebel soldiers, Spafford's anger with the Rebels being able to infiltrate the Union troops, the captured rebel prisoner stated aim was to take Sutler's supplies, acceptance of officers' resignations and the potential promotion of George Clark to Captain.

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                            Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                            Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                            Date:  1863-05-11

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Reference to Gen. Joseph Hooker's withdrawal across the Rappahannock River at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 1863), Hooker getting an additional 30,000 men from Hentzleman, where the various companies are stationed, sabotage and guerrilla tactics by "squads", the capture & release of Union soldiers, reference to Confederate forces under John Singleton Mosby and family photographs.

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                              Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                              Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                              Date:  1863-06-13

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the hot weather, the anticipation of the rebels attacking again at Bull Run, receiving $214 in pay and sending $175 home, amount of money saved, the plan to go to Washington and hoping to get to Brattleboro and have Mary Jane and Ellen join him there.

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                                Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                                Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                                Date:  1863-06-15

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include Hooker’s Army being around Manassas and Centerville, the hot weather, the expectation of a pass to Washington, considering how to send military pay home in smaller amounts, hearing rumors of Robert E Lee and more and learning to ignore unless seen for himself.

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                                  Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                                  Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                                  Date:  1863-06-19

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include that letter writing the only activity going on, it raining at last, the possibility of Lee’s Army being at Vicksburg, the expectation of not being able to go to Washington again, wishing for a new pair of pants made from nice dark blue cloth, a piece of battle worn Union flag from the 4th Regiment.

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                                    Title:   Justus F. Gale to Father

                                    Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                    Date:  1862-11-07

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Gale writes of his regiment and the rebels, of other troops encountering the enemy who left much camp supplies, cannon, etc. behind, receiving the Green Mountain Freeman, trying to appease both parents concerning the farm and deeding it back to his father, his concerns about his father having another woman in his life and how that affects him, and the expectation that the regiment will return to Algiers.

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                                      Title:   Justus F. Gale to Mother

                                      Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                      Date:  1862-08-19

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include a few deaths in the regiment, a description of the Battle at Baton Rouge (August 5, 1862) , and the resignation and promotions within the regiment.

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                                        Title:   Justus F. Gale to Mother

                                        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                        Date:  1863-04-11

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include getting ready to march with the 19th Corps against Fort Bisland and Colonel Thomas’ confidence in the 8th Vermont. He also writes that the regiment marched over 100 miles and captured 2,200 prisoners in an addendum to his letter, dated April 21.

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                                          Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                          Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                          Date:  1862-07-18

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the good health of Justus Gale, the food available at Algiers including confiscated beef from the locals, standing guard for 12 hour shifts, killing alligators, writes of some of his comrades, the sickness of Sargent 2nd Class.Chas. C. Martin with inflammation of the bowels, the capture of Richmond and Vicksburg, mentions Confederate Gen. G. T. Beauregard, receiving a copy of the Green Mountain Freeman and refers to his religious faith.

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                                            Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                            Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                            Date:  1862-11-14

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include the poor health of Justus Gale’s sister, having plenty to eat and confiscating anything while in the field including livestock from the rebels, receiving a box from home that was greatly appreciated though disappointed none of Mother's cheese, the expectation of returning to Algiers, and some family affairs including what to do with Charlie's clothes since his death, mentions still needing to get a photographer and have his photo taken, and the possibility of renting the farm.

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                                              Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                              Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                              Date:  1862-11-18

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include the being saddened by the ill health of his family in Elmore, enjoying good health himself, troops living in an apparently abandoned house in Bayou Boeuf, La., the parole of the prisoners who are still alive (not clear but these may be Union soldiers taken prisoners as some were shot for running from their army and joining a Union regiment), the movement of the army on the Potomac and still unable to get a photograph of himself taken.

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                                                Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                                Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                                Date:  1863-07-05

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include family news, the weather, that Colonel Thomas is acting Major General now, that the Rebels are deserting often and are short of provisions, and that his Company while on picket duty talks back and forth to the Rebels and shares their food with them at times.

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                                                  Title:   Lyman Barton to Hiram Barton

                                                  Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

                                                  Date:  1863-05-01

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Lyman Barton writes a detailed description of the capture of the Confederate battery at Hill’s Point on May 19, 1863, when his company and six others from the 8th Connecticut Infantry Regiment and eight companies of the 89th New York Infantry Regiment boarded the U.S.S. Stepping Stones and traveled up the Nansemond River to assault the rifle pits and fort.

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