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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: ("African American soldiers") remove term  Topic: ("African American soldiers") remove term

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Title:   Bradford Sparrow to Parents and Brothers

Creator:  Sparrow, Bradford

Date:  1864-04-25

Resource type:   correspondence

Still at Brandy Station, Virginia and writes of feeling well, of expecting Gen. Meade to move is head quarters to Culpeper soon, been rifle target practice, Lt. Gen. Grant reviewed the troops, photograph sent home via mail, has heard news of Red River expedition and massacre at Fort Pillow (April 12) where a large number of Black and White troops were killed, mentions lots of opportunities for men to get commissions in the Black regiments.

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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:  1865-03-15

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Writes of a gap in letters due to Rutherford treating a small pox patient, preparations for a march due to the nice weather, the destruction of the Lynchburg Rail Road and canal by Sheridan thus cutting off supplies to Gen. Lee, reference to Sheridan’s raid, and Schofield's victory over Bragg, his opinion of the effectiveness of Black Rebel soldiers on picket duty, more Rebel deserters arriving in camp, mentions writing articles for publication including one for the Sunday School at home.

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          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

          Date:  1865-03-29

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include the sadness felt in needing to leave the 10th Vermont Regiment as a result of a promotion, Rutherford's assistant surgeon's lack of experience, the pleasant soldiers in his new regiment,the rapid downfall of the rebellion, Sheridan with 15,000 cavalry troops, Sherman at City Point, Terry with the 25th Corps Colored Troops.

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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:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

              Date:  1864-03-10

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include various men going home on leave including Chaplain, Capt. Bartlett & Lt. Gale, a ball attended by staff officers and their wives, going to army headquarters, sending money home, all wives ordered to leave camps as soon as they can and reference to appointment of Joseph Daggett as 1st Lt (and Regimental Quartermaster of the 43rd U.S. Colored Infantry) to a Negro regiment, has written a newspaper article for the Newport News, came down with a case of the measles, many soldiers dying from diarrhea.

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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:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

                      Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

                      Date:  1864-07-07

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Lyman Barton comments on the Second Battle of Petersburg on June 15 to 18, writing that though they were almost successful in taking Petersburg, the arrival of General Hancock slowed the assault until the defenses were fortified. He also writes of his sister mistaking shoulder scales, worn by privates, for an officer’s badge in a photograph she received, mentioning that the Colored Troops wore these shoulder scales but discarded them when in the field. He gives only a passing mention to the Battle of Cold Harbor.

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                        Title:   William Wirt Henry to Mary Jane Henry

                        Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                        Date:  1864-07-03

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Henry writes of his gratitude for his wife’s patriotic words in her last letter, and that he is pleased with her praise of his courage and hopes he will remain brave. He mentions the Battle of Cold Harbor and that he now has the reputation of a fighting officer, since he led the charge there. He also writes that he is back in command of the regiment again, though his hand is not completely healed, and writes as well of the bravery of the colored troops, which the men call “whitewashed yankees.” At the end of the letter he mentions his sister Delia, who has married a Southern doctor and lives in Kinston, N.C., hoping she can live in peace and has enough to eat.

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                          Title:   William Wirt Henry to Mary Jane Henry

                          Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                          Date:  1864-07-30

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Henry writes that the regiment has been on the move again, this time towards Martinsburg. He responds to a suggestion by his father about sending agents to recruit in the South by writing that there are ten agents for every “nigger” and that it would be better to enlist the agents. As well he writes that the rebels are taking wheat from local farmers but he feels there are enough Union troops in the valley to drive the rebels out soon.

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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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                              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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