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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: ("Postal service") remove term

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Title:   Henry A. Smith to Mother

Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

Date:  1862-11-20

Resource type:   correspondence

Writing from Chantilla, Virginia topics include the anticipation of receiving a package from home. Box directed to the camp at Alexandria for a few items were sent on to his current location.Mentions his good health and that he often feels better out scouting than when he stays in camp. States fellow Vermonter taken prisoner. Inquires about folks and activities at home.

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    Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

    Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

    Date:  1862-01-26

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include marching orders, the cold weather, and the way the regiment sets up their guns so they are always ready. The order to march probably refers to Lincoln's General War Order No. 1, an attempt to prod his generals to act. By "Chatilerz" Wilder may have meant "chattelers," or those assigned the duty of moving war materiel.

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      Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

      Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

      Date:  1862-04-23

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include a request for Wilder's mother to send him stamps, Wilder's predictions that he may never return home, and a description of the battle at Yorktown. Poignant thoughts about friends and loved ones near and far away.

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        Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

        Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

        Date:  1862-06-25

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include Captain E. S. Stowell heading for Vermont to become a Major in the 9th Regiment, the death of Wilder's Aunt, and Wilder receiving his pay the next day. June 25 marks the beginning of the failed campaign against Richmond known as The Seven Days.

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          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

          Date:  1863-08-27

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Writing from camp in the field near Sulphur Springs, Virginia topics include reference to postal service, the sickness of a couple of men, the good health of Rutherford in spite of the lack of food, his encounter with a swarm of wild bees, not suffering from his rheumatism as in the past, reference to lice as grey backs and the hope that he will receive the promotion.

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            Title:   Joseph Spafford to Marianne Spafford

            Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

            Date:  1862-03-29

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Writing to his mother from the Mansion House Hospital topics include being left behind by the Regiment due to his illness, impossibility of getting a furlough, number of men from the 4th Vermont in the hospital, Ellsworth’s house, and possibility of being sent to another hospital.

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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:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                Date:  1862-04-02

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Spafford continues to write from the Mansion House Hospital on topics that include worrying about his mother’s health, difficulty of getting a furlough, commenting on his preference to be a 2nd lieutenant and not a captain, detailed description of a day in the hospital, rules posted in the hospital, a dialogue he had with a drunken soldier from a California regiment, and description of a visit by a Vermonter from Windsor.

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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:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                    Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                    Date:  1861-11-10

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Writes of how a box can be sent, desire for larger size boots, stockings, apples, Meerschaumn pipe

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                      Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                      Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                      Date:  1862-03-06

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Spafford writes of difficulty of getting postage stamps in the correct amount needed to mail letters home and that the prepared rations ordered for possible march on Feb 27th were consumed in camp.

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                        Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                        Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                        Date:  1862-04-09

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writing to his sister from the Mansion House Hospital topics include bad weather in Alexandria, Virginia, delayed arrival of letters from home, sewing on chevrons on his coat to help pass the time in his hospital room, and battle news of rebels defeated at Corinth and surrender of island no. 10.

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                          Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                          Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                          Date:  1862-12-09

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include the 13th, 14th, and 15th regiments moving near Bull Run battlefield, Stoughton arriving in camp, his comfortable living quarters, plenty to eat and inquiries about home.

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                            Title:   Letter to Rufus and Sebra Towle

                            Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                            Date:  1861-11-25

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            From Camp Griffen, Va. Topics include the health of the regiment (measles, Typhoid fever), requests for food, tea, clothing and the cold weather.

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                              Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                              Date:  1862-05-18

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the hard marching to a camp owned by the rebel Colonel Lee and requests for items to be sent from home.

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                                Title:   Nathan A. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                Creator:  Williams, Nathan A., 1837-1903

                                Date:  1862-08-24

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include the expectation of a battle and reinforcements. The anticipated battle was probably the 2nd Manassas or Bull Run campaign (Aug. 26-30, another win for the Confederates).

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                                  Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Rufus and Sebra Towle

                                  Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                  Date:  1862-04-03

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Towle writes of orders received to march on Richmond, Virginia and of his many camp duties. He writes of soldiers letters being detained and of their camp being fired upon by the Rebels. No harm done.

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                                    Title:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                    Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                    Date:  1862-11-07

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include the regiments location relative to Alexandria, Virginia and Mount Vernon, a description of G. Mason ( a Southern secessionist), troops commandeering and occupation of Mason's property, the ruins of other mansions in the area, and the continued improvement of Laura’s health (Farnham's sister).

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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:  1861-05-15

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include description of Fort Monroe, including "the big gun" and other armaments; overnight guard duty; being outside the fortress walls; staying in local hotel; good weather, food; low anxiety. Names: John Stearns, John Prichard, David Johnson; Laura, Ezekiel. Ships: Alabama.

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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:   Solomon G. Heaton to ?

                                            Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                                            Date:  1862-12-10

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Heaton writes that he is sending money home ($20), and that he needs $1 in postage stamps sent to him (the rest can go toward Lucy's board at school during the winter). His camp site, Belle Plains, Va., lies just east of Fredericksburg, the site of a major battle (Dec. 11-15, 1862) that began a day after Heaton wrote this note; hence, the need to be ready with sixty rounds of "catridges."

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                                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  1862-08-05

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              From Camp Siegel topics include the mail from home being delivered after being misdirected, comments on family, digging in the ground creating storage spaces for items such as butter and milk, having fresh berries to eat, clearing up rumors revolving around the regiment, sun stroke suffered by one soldier due to the heat, cost of food.

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1862-08-28

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include the capturing of some Rebels at Newtown who stated Rebels do not go hungry as long a Union troops are around from which to steal food, issues with the postal mail service, the difficulty of getting rest in camp, and the sickness of the regiment.

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1862-08-03

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Writing from Camp Seigle near Winchester, Va. topics include having a good meal, postal service finally getting the mail on the road only to be handed off and the rider now missing, the burning of the city (Winchester?), being invited to take refreshments by city residents but declining as he did not want to risk being poisoned, Lieutenant Jewett on picket duty, attended worship service, misses his young children, and the hope that the 10th regiment will arrive in camp.

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