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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: ("Morale") remove term  Format: ("text") remove term  Format: ("text") remove term

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Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

Date:  1864-02-04

Resource type:   correspondence

Writes of warming of days but continued nightly chills and fever, illness of Capt. George N. Carpenter, reenlisting of many of the men but they being kept in suspense over whether or not their re-enlistments are accepted due to possible replacement soldiers coming in, vents about poor living conditions affecting his general health. Letter ends mid sentence.

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    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

    Date:  1864-03-29

    Resource type:   correspondence

    A down beat letter that includes the sickness of his children, reference to a newspaper article Rutherford wrote about an officer, rainy weather making him feel homesick and the death of Major Bartlett.

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      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

      Date:  1864-04-10

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Camping in the field near Culpeper, Va. topics include writing articles for home newspapers, disliking the idea of being labeled a "newspaper correspondent", becomes poetic and philosophical reflecting on the current day's beautiful weather, of his deep feelings for receiving letters from home, of his daughter Helen’s progress with writing composition, and Baker and Cuttings visit to camp.

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        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

        Date:  1864-04-14

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Expresses concern about Hannah's health, the political scandal over General Butler not searching baggage of Mrs. (Martha) Todd White [Mary Todd Lincoln's half sister], not seeking higher military pay, receiving sugar from home, prediction about Lincoln and the future election, asking his daughter, Helen, to not attend school but help teach her younger siblings to read and write.

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          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

          Date:  1864-04-19

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include additional sending more pay home to Hannah, an imminent march, enduring low spirits, sending a photograph of Lt. Tabor, instructions on where to send letters, of the sudden death of a fellow soldier's horse, and other stories of soldiers in the war.

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            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

            Date:  1864-04-24

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Writes of the saddened tone among the soldiers in camp as people suspect an advance to the front lines of battle; honors received by General Grant, and discussion of a newspaper's editor on predictions of the next presidential candidate.

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              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

              Date:  1864-09-09

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Rutherford reflects on his deep desires to be home with family, his health improves but not yet resumed duties, expresses his feelings of the war going on, of those at home in comfort not experiencing the hardships of the soldier, makes a reference to the Copperheads in political rhetoric, writes of his mare, gives a description of his tent as living quarters with a drawing, and a requests for new glasses as his eyesight is getting bad.

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                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                Date:  1862-11-25

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include the possibility of action, ammunition and the mini ball, of high morale among the soldiers, of John Piper being described as the best marksman and now being Rutherford's body guard, an order from the War Department for Surgeons to remove themselves from action as much as possible, a case of Typhoid and the improbability of Rutherford taking a leave of absence at this time.

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                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                  Date:  1864-11-18

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  A letter to Rutherford’s daughter comparing raw recruits with experienced soldiers he has fought alongside, description of the mood in camp, mentions the difference of his situation than 30 days ago when many battles have been fought, and the hope to try to visit home.

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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:  1863-07-27

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Writing a very brief letter from Warrenton, Virginia topics include the continuous marching, lack of food, the hardships the men are currently facing met with cheerfulness, moving on to Culpeper, then to Gordonsville and hopefully on to Richmond.

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                        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                        Date:  1863-07-29

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writing in the field near Warrenton, Virginia topics include the importance of receiving letters from home, morale kept up by sharing bits of news from home with each other in spite of the hardships in camp, reference to several commanding officers including French, Elliot, Morris, General George Meade, his hearsay knowledge of the drunkenness of Gen. Joseph Hooker, of receiving a home newspaper with one of his letters printed in it.

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                          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                          Date:  1863-08-24

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          From in the field topics include Rutherford's friends at home worrying about him, the lack of opportunity for promotion in the regiment at this time, the position of "Salter" mentioned (procurer of salt, a maker of and dealer in salt, a drysalter?), and the method for treating typhoid fever, diarrhea among the sick men, looking on the bright side dealing with adversities of camp life.

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                            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                            Date:  1863-10-11

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Writing a very brief letter from in the field near the Confederate Army topics include the anticipation of an attack, the high morale of the troops even in the face of danger and the proximity to the enemy.

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                              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                              Date:  1863-10-13

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              In the field writing on a drum in the hot sun, topics include having completed a long march to his position near Washington, the proximity to the enemy, the expectation of a battle, the men prepared and eager seemingly having become desensitized to danger and death as they chat with one another and even sleep.

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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:  1862-01-30

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Spafford's brief letter has an underlying tone of being anxious to hear from home. The rainy and muddy weather continue.

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                                    Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                                    Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                                    Date:  1862-10-26

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Writing en route, topics include a description of the journey to Washington on the “Elm City” train, his deep desire for letters from home and an undercurrent of his willingness to accept how things are.

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                                      Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                      Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                      Date:  1862-01-30

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include remaining at Camp Holbrook in Vermont for 4 weeks, grateful to hear from home, food not very good, a rumor of getting paid, and the visitors who watch dress parade.

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                                        Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                                        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                                        Date:  1863-03-15

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics working at the Marine hospital, still waiting for military pay, the lack of letters from family and friends, reflects on the war and his wish for Jeff Davis’ scalp as a Thanksgiving present. He also writes that he is “perplexed” by how the war is being managed.

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                                          Title:   Lyman S. Willams to Lois L. Williams

                                          Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                          Date:  1862-07-27

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the quietness of camp near Harrisons Landing, a church service that Lyman Williams attended, and the food Lyman misses from home.

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                                            Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Warren Williams

                                            Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                            Date:  1862-04-20

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include Lyman Williams coming down with a fever, an encounter with the rebels that left four men wounded, and the rebels' description of the Vermont regiment as dare devils. Stationery has an illustration of a "Vermont Boy," plus two verses of a song with the title "Vermont Soldier." The refrain, "Away down in Dixie," suggests an attempt to compete with the immortal southern song "Dixie."

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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 Family and Friends

                                                Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                                Date:  1862-02-02

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Towle writes of missing his newspaper and his wish to remain informed on both foreign and army news and of some of the men's morale writing home about the hardships of war and a desire to see it end. He writes of Col. Stoughton resignation, of officers' wives attending the camp's religious service and how the service differs from the traditional church worship.

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                                                  Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                                  Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                                  Date:  1862-06-26

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Towle writes of what he hears about the living conditions of the Rebels including forced service, some without enough food and about the Battle of Richmond having been going on for a month with artillery shelling and likely to continue.

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