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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: ("War casualties") remove term  Genre: ("correspondence") remove term

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Title:   George F. Davis to Smiley Bancroft

Creator:  Davis, George F., 1815-1901

Date:  1862-05-07

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include the death of Charles Bancroft while on the "Propeller Richard Willing" and an account of his possessions. The quartermaster's tone is remarkably sympathetic even while addressing official business.

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    Title:   George F. Davis to Smiley Bancroft

    Creator:  Davis, George F., 1815-1901

    Date:  1862-05-18

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include plans to return Charles Bancroft's possessions to his father. One senses that the quartermaster is defending the military's hospital care in response to a complaint from Bancroft's father.

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      Title:   George W. Quimby to Sister

      Creator:  Quimby, George W.

      Date:  1861-11-30

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Writes to sister Emeline B. Masta from Camp Griffin, Va of a description of a Grand Review by Gen. McClellan and staff with Pres. Abraham Lincoln in attendance, marching to Bailey's Cross Roads, expedition to Fairfax Court House for grain, receipt of quilt and pillow, death of two men from disease, reference to Thanksgiving Day

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        Title:   Henry A. Smith to Frances E. Smith

        Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

        Date:  1864-02-28

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Short note written to tell his sister that he has been moved to the hospital in Richmond and that he is sick with dysentery. Henry died the next day.

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          Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

          Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

          Date:  1861-12-07

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Henry writes from Camp Griffin, Va. of a scouting and foraging expedition of 30,000 men whereby corn, hay and wood were obtained, of the death of Fenton on November 29th, of few meetings held by the Chaplain who is not very well thought of and of visiting the sick in the hospital.

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            Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

            Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

            Date:  1861-?-29

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Henry writes from Camp Griffin, Va. of being in good health, of having gained ten pounds, of sleeping well, of having a comfortable bed and coverings, of the burial service of two men held by the Chaplain and of Fenton ill with the measles.

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              Title:   Henry W. Spafford to Clarissa A. Smith

              Creator:  Spafford, Henry W., 1840-1911

              Date:  1864-05-16

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Letter written by Spafford to Mrs. Clarissa A. Smith, the mother of Henry A. Smith regarding the death of her son, Hnery A. Smith in the hospital in Richmond, giving details of the conditions there, both about the physicians and how prisoners were buried. Spafford gives Mrs. Smith contact information in order to be in touch with the Ward Master Sergt Jacob Saftig Co. G 4th K.Y. Cav. in the hopes of him being able to give Mrs. Smith more information about Smith's final hours.

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                Title:   Horatio P. Bruce to Smiley Bancroft

                Creator:  Bruce, Horatio P.,

                Date:  1862-06-26

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include the death of Charles Bancroft from typhoid fever, the sickness of other men in the company, and that the fall of Richmond will bring the war to an end. Like many other writers, he refers to McClellan's reluctance to deploy his massive army.

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                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                  Date:  1862-09-28

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Rutherford writes of the illness of the his assistant surgeon, Dr. Clarke, of his own excellent health, and all he is enjoying at camp including a hive of bees. He writes of fresh meat, fowl and fruit available to eat, of a companion dog and of his horse he admires so much. He speaks of the difference in military medical care of the soldiers and notes how the care results in more or fewer sick soldiers and of deaths.

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                    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                    Date:  1862-11-15

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Rutherford writes of the regiment's movement to Camp Grove Offults Cup, Maryland. Also of his contempt for soldiers who want to shirk their military duties, of how well the truly sick soldiers are cared for in the hospital, and a slanderous report written about the Surgeon which Rutherford firmly denies, gives his side of the story including military discipline and an account of who a man named Murk who is responsible for the false report.

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                      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                      Date:  1862-12-13

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Rutherford writes to wife Hannah about the death of General Newcomb, Rutherford's medical duties and the birth of Mrs. Turn’s baby.

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                        Title:   Joseph Spafford to Homer White

                        Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                        Date:  1862-02-07

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Spafford writes to his friend Homer on topics including Typhoid Fever in the Regiment, friendship, camp life, Hancock’s Brigade [Winfield Scott Hancock], and answering his friend’s questions about joining the Regiment and fear of dying.

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                          Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                          Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                          Date:  1861-11-04

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include Battalion and Regiment drills, having had a photograph taken of him, arrangements for Joseph Spafford's mother and sister to send him items and food from home, has received gloves from home, getting writing materials from the sutler, illness among the men, death from disease, personal family matter, wants lyrics sent to the song "Rock me to sleep".

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                            Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                            Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                            Date:  1861-11-17

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Topics include an expected package from home, lack of military pay, death of three men in the company from the fever, of a father retrieving his son's body..

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                              Title:   Justus F. Gale to Brother

                              Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                              Date:  1862-08-01

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the sickness and deaths in the regiment including that of Lucias M Benson of Worcester from diphtheria whom Gale was caring for in the hospital, inquiries about home and family members, the lack of news from Richmond, and the hot weather in Algiers.

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                                Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                Date:  1862-04-21

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include the improvement in Justus Gale's health, the cost of food items in camp, the death of three men in the regiment, the attempted suicide of a man in Company F, mentions "sugar place" back home in Elmore and writes about the lack of information in camp about the rest of the Union Army.

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                                  Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                  Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                  Date:  1863-[05-15]

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Gale writes that he is still camped near Alexandria and is using his cartridge box as a desk to write the letter. The weather has been rainy and they have been using their rubber blankets as tents. He then goes on to describe the shooting of James H. Hill, a teamster, by an Irish soldier, James O’Mara, on May 14th, and finishes his letter with a complaint against all those to whom he has written who have not yet replied, and gossip about Ira F. Grout of Elmore, Vermont.

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                                    Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                    Date:  1863-08-22

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Writing from New York City, Williams recounts trip via train and steamboat from Warrenton, Va to the city. Purpose of the trip is thought to be to enforce the draft. Accident involving the steamboat and a schooner en route resulted in two men killed and one lost overboard. Military pay received spent partly on weapons to give to the officers out of respect.

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                                      Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Family

                                      Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                      Date:  [1862]-01-20

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Towle writes from his Virginia camp to his parents and sister on the mud while out on picket duty, fearfulness of some of the soldiers, list of items to send from home including a reference to his much needed new boots, sickness and deaths in the Regiment, and news of the Rochester boys.

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                                        Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                        Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                        Date:  1862-02-17

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include Towle’s sickness Saturday night, of illness and death within the company and regiment, praise for officer Lieut. Pingree, reference to rumor of the capture of Savannah (does he refer to Georgia?), and a brief reference to the possible firing of guns at Fort Ethan Allen for some victory somewhere.

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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 Friends

                                            Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                            Date:  [1862]-03-05

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            From Camp Griffin, Towle writes of a brigade and bayonet drill, the increasing number of sick men with the death count for the regiment at 77, and of the monotony of camp life.

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                                              Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Sister and Friends

                                              Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                              Date:  1862-05-15

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              From camp in Whitehouse Landing, Va. topics include the destruction of the Merrimac (the ironclad warship), a bear hunt, the occupation of Norfolk, Virginia troops under the command of President Lincoln, a description of skirmishes with the Rebels, and the warm weather in Virginia.

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                                                Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                                Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                Date:  1861-08-12

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include the Regiment being held up at Camp Phelps in Brattleboro, VT while awaiting the paymaster, the men being more disciplined than is previous days, reference to a girl with mental disabilities being taken home by Mr. Slocome, mentions the death of a St. Albans boy and others who have died.

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                                                  Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                                  Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                  Date:  1861-07-23

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  July 23, 1861. Topics include disastrous news from Manassas Junction that will delay the departure for home, death of a soldier named Whitney from Woodstock who left the troops with Lt. Becker but without being given leave by the Colonel, and terrible rain storms.

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