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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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Title:   Frederick Holbrook to John Wolcott Phelps

Creator:  Holbrook, Frederick

Date:  1862-08-08

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include Mrs. Holbrook requesting General Phelps to forward her letters to her son and Frederick Holbrook inquiring after the sick men and the number of surgeons. Holbrook expresses frustration that the Vt. Regiments (7th & 8th) are still not under Phelps's command, per an agreement with Gen. Butler. Holbrook also mentions Phelps's "Dark Brigade," black troops that Phelps recruited in Louisiana without permission from the War Dept. (Phelps resigned in Aug., 1862.)

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    Title:   John M. Stone to Family

    Creator:  Stone, John M., 1835-1915

    Date:  1862-08-28

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Two letters dated Aug 28 & Aug 30 ; grateful for letters from home writing, pride in Vermont for providing soldiers, loading wagons onto the boats in Hampton (Va.?), pleased with the work done by black men, sending money home and news from home.

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      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

      Date:  1863-03-31

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include ways to help deal with small pox and keeping the face from pitting, how Rutherford entertains himself in camp that includes reading, writing and playing card game Euchre, the treatment of a secessionist, Mr. Trundle, for erysipelas (infection and redness of the skin) with the result that Rutherford is even more well respected by fellow officers, meeting Dr. Willard Augustus Childe's new wife, reference to a black regiment.

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        Title:   Justus E. Gale to Sister

        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

        Date:  1862-11-29

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include the movement of the regiment to Brashear City, of city purchases by Justus Gale of barrels of apples which he resold by the piece, of buying tobacco, postage stamps, writing supplies, local terms for cash money, of commanding officers of 3rd Louisiana colored regiment and the dry weather.

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          Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

          Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

          Date:  1862-08-26

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include wishing his sister a happy birthday, clearing up the rumor that he is dead, the enlisting of blacks, and the enlisting of men from home before they are drafted.

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            Title:   Letter to John Wolcott Phelps

            Date:  1862-08-10

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Holbrook waxes eloquent in his call for a "'Great Awakening' at Washington" and a greater awareness of how "our present severe training" will make the nation stronger; but the federal government needs to take the war seriously in order to have victory. Accordingly, Holbrook supports Lincoln's call for 300,000 additional troops, but suggests that a million men in arms would bring success. Intuits correctly that Phelps's "Dark Brigade" (black troops) would not be allowed to bear arms.

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              Title:  

              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

              Date:  1863-10-03

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include a visit to Norfolk, Virginia, where he met his brother, Lester (Rufus Lester Barney), his return to the Regiment by boat, and an aborted movement of the Regiment to Portsmouth, Virginia. He also mentions the large number of sick in the Regiment, the arrival of a colored regiment to help stand guard, though he doubts their capability, taking a horse back ride through the Negro regiment and Jewettville.

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                Title:  

                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                Date:  1863-10-08

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Barney writes of having only 83 men on duty due to sickness, and that he is currently in command of the fort, though General Wistar would be returning soon after a raid on guerillas. He also comments on the lack of experience of the colored regiment. The rest of the letter contains comments and questions about life at home in Swanton.

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                  Title:  

                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                  Date:  1863-10-19

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Barney writes that the Regiment has still not moved and he is very anxious that they do so, though the sickness in the Regiment is abating a little. Mentions several names of men (Col. [James Wolfe] Ripley, H. Meigs, Sartwell, Dr. Carpenter & Bellrose). He also writes of the arrival of another colored regiment and of the efforts of General William F. “Baldy” Smith in getting the Regiment moved. As well he writes of target shooting with his brother Lester and some of the other officers and nearly shooting himself in the leg while reloading.

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                    Title:  

                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                    Date:  1863-09-28

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Barney writes of sickness in the Regiment, and of six deaths, one of whom was shot by a negro soldier. He also writes of hiring a new negro servant, as his old servant had “too much white blood in him.”

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