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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:    Topic: ("Drill and minor tactics") remove term

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Title:   Benjamin F. Parmenter to Brother

Creator:  Parmenter, Benjamin F., 1832-1896

Date:  1861-07-28

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include Benjamin F. Parmenter's negative opinion of an attack ( the first battle of Bull Run--see letter 3).

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    Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

    Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

    Date:  1861-11-?

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Writes of Brigade drill under General Smith, picket duty, prospect of detachment from brigade to go south, much illness among the men including a case of small pox, upcoming promotion of Lt. Crossman, cold weather, upcoming grand review by General McClellan.

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      Title:   Charles F. Bancroft to Family

      Creator:  Bancroft, Charles F., d. 1862

      Date:  1862-04-06

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include taking possession of Shelman's Mill, the men killed and wounded by the Rebels, and an account of brief skirmishes. Bancroft describes abandoned Rebel fortifications and odd items left behind. Senses that greater fighting is about to begin, and indeed, the so-called siege of Yorktown, Va. dates from this period. In a lighter moment, Bancroft expresses his gratitude for the green tea he received from home: "there is nothing better for a soldier on a march than a cup of tea."

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        Title:   Charles F. Bancroft to Smiley Bancroft

        Creator:  Bancroft, Charles F., 1835-1862

        Date:  1861-12-31

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include picket guard, description of camp life, and a prediction of the future of the war.

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          Title:   George J. Stannard to William Wirt Henry

          Creator:  Stannard, George J., 1820-1886

          Date:  1862-01-07

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include inquiring after William Henry's health, the sickness in the regiment, and a brief description of drills and picket duty and makes mention of not being promoted, states Capt Dillingham to be promoted.

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            Title:   George W. Quimby to Tucker

            Creator:  Quimby, George W., 1835-1862

            Date:  1862-04-25

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Topics include the location of the company and a brief account of the battle of Lee's Mill. Also a comment about one legislator "Morrels" (Justin Morrill?) stating that Gen. William Smith was drunk. A summary of promotions.

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              Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

              Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

              Date:  1861-10-12

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include advancing on the Rebels to Prospect Hill, a battle at Hatteras Inlet where the Rebels lost many men, and two Rebels at Camp Advance that were taken prisoners. Reference to Gen. Scott, to Bull Run, to plenty of chestnuts available to eat. Also mentions the opinion that many believe the war will be short (six months)

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                Title:   Henry L. Terry to John W. Campbell

                Creator:  Terry, Henry L., 1820-1885

                Date:  1861-10-21

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include encamping at Lee's Mill, twelve miles from Washington, close to the Rebels.

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                  Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                  Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                  Date:  [1861]-11-22

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac at Ball's Cross Roads, "Old Abe" to see 75,000 troops, scouting excursion, marching, picket guard, mentions Thanksgiving in Vermont.

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                    Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                    Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                    Date:  1861-10-8

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Writes of good postal service on letter delivery, of Sargent Charley Reed, of Captain Altherton, of wanting a photograph of Homer, general good health of the men, a heavy rain storm that flooded his tent, of going out on Battalion drill.

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                      Title:   Justus F. Gale to Brother

                      Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                      Date:  1862-04-24

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Two letters dated April 24th and 25th. Topics include the capture of Fort Jackson(?) ; fort south of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, [battle April 18-28], the food at camp good except greasy pork meat, and the schedule for the day including battalion drills and dress parade.

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                        Title:   Justus F. Gale to [Family]

                        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                        Date:  1862-02-19

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writing from Brattleboro topics include drilling, a few companies being sworn into the United States service, Justus Gale’s health improving from a brief cold, mentions "rag" hash soup, boiled beef & potatoes, news of family members and the snow at camp.

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                          Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                          Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                          Date:  1861-02-27

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Writing from his Virgina camp Griffin, Towle gives a description of a Battalion Drill and the ill health effects on the soldiers, of a gale storm damaging tents and overturning an ambulance with a sick soldier inside. He writes of orders from General McClellan to be ready to move, and states men are sick and death count to date for his regiment is 66.

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                            Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Rufus and Sebra Towle

                            Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                            Date:  1862-01-11

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Towle writes from his Virginia camp to his parents about drill, military life, resignation of officers due to being unfit physically or mentally, of still needing new boots, illness, and his positive opinion of Colonel Stoughton.

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                              Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Rufus and Sebra Towle

                              Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                              Date:  1862-02-05

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Towle responds to his parents' letter that expresses low morale at home, financial difficulties at home and Towle encourages the doing without luxuries on the home front as much as possible. He writes of a 30 hour picket trip, the capture of rebel two scouts, drills being only two a day and of a self inflicted wounding of a Union soldier requiring amputation of the wounded soldier's leg.

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                                Title:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                Date:  1863-04-12

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include the good times the officers' wives are having in camp, the watching of the Guard Mounting, Picket Guard Mounting, battery practice and regiment drill, ladies sent to Alexandria as orders received that the whole brigade is to move and information about Cyrus’ death and belongings.

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                                  Title:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                  Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                  Date:  1862-10-13

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include the accommodations in camp, Roswell Farnham’s health, and Roswell Farnham teaching the commissioned officers of the right wing.

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                                    Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                    Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                    Date:  1861-05-08

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include acting as Adjutant of the Regiment at Camp Fairbanks, Rutland, and considering a commission in the army with the rank of captain. Farnham mentions his high regard for his superiors, especially Ge. Baxter, and how much the soldiers look forward to arriving at Fort Monroe and eventually training for battle.

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                                      Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                      Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                      Date:  1861-05-05

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include camp life, food (lack of some items, abundance of others), daily routine, occasional discomforts. Farnham mentions rumors that the Regiment won't be sent to the South but more likely to New York, even though most of the men are looking forward to battle. Some discussion about postal service, i.e. how long a letter will take for sender and recipient. Col. Phelps is lauded as a good disciplinarian.

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                                        Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                        Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                        Date:  1861-05-18

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the safety of the fort; definition of "columbiad" (delivers 10-inch cannonball); living arrangements (Willard Hotel); officers' food versus soldiers' food; daily drill and men's complaints; several lines about health concerns, children's health, not getting mail, and correct mailing address. Names: Pickett, John Prichard, Andross, Stearns, Charlie Peters, Mr. Batchelder, Woodstock Company.

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                                          Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                          Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                          Date:  1862-10-12

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include buying necessities for camp, the movement of the regiments around them, and the anticipation of several hours of battalion drills.

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                                            Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                            Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                            Date:  1861-06-16

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include: gratitude among the men for gifts of food (incl. maple sugar) and other "luxuries"; Major Worthen's scouting expedition, which led to a small skirmish and some casualties among some St. Albans and Swanton soldiers; press inaccuracies; life at camp; how he misses his books and reading; other domestic matters.

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                                              Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                              Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                              Date:  1861-07-05

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include an encounter between the Zouaves and Rebels, flap-jacks and doughnuts in camp, an African-American prisoner by the name of Joe Wilson, the probability of not engaging in a fight, and the bugs and mosquitoes at camp.

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                                                Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                                Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                Date:  1862-10-23

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include the improvement of Roswell Farnham’s foot injury, the cold weather at camp, and the number of regiments joining the camp.

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                                                  Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                                  Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                  Date:  1862-10-17

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include performing several hours of battalion drills and reviews, rumors that the regiment will remain in Washington through the winter, and inquiries about the people at home.

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