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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: ("Prisoners of war") 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:  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 Harrison Wilder to Mother

      Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

      Date:  1861-10-22

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Henry writes of having his military pay make interest, of a fight that had taken place and General Johnston was taken prisoner, of his health being better, of a soldier's discharge due to fever sore on his leg, of a woman named Marion and of a lot of letter writing being done by the soldiers.

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        Title:   Henry Harrison Wilder to Mother

        Creator:  Wilder, Henry Harrison

        Date:  1862-02-13

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include Wilder getting his army picture taken, his plan to send it to his mother, and a victory at Roanoke Island, No. Carolina (Feb. 8), in which over 2,000 prisoners were taken.

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          Title:   Ira A. Marshall to William Wirt Henry

          Creator:  Marshall, Ira A., d. 1893

          Date:  1862-06-08

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include camping at Harrison's Landing, Virginia on the James River, makes reference to regiments and companies losing men, the names of men wounded and their injuries in Company D, makes reference to a battle (maybe Battle of Seven Pines [Fair Oaks]??), several officers resigning, the high cost of food, and the slight sickness of Ira Marshall.

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            Title:   John W. Merriam to Friend Samantha

            Creator:  Merriam, John W., d. 1863

            Date:  1862-09-04

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Writing from Algiers, La. topics include the false report of Justus's death and an attack by 1500 Rebels on a train leaving Desallemands and heading for Algiers that left 30 to 40 soldiers wounded or killed.

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              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

              Date:  1863-07-07

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Writing two letters dated July 7th and 8th from South Mountain Pass, Maryland topics include the deplorable state of Rebel prisoners captured, the kindness of the Vermont Regiment towards the prisoners by giving the Confederates their rations, prisoners marching to Washington, D. C., his reflections on the battle at South Mountain that took place September 1862, Union destruction of Rebel pontoon bridges, one time the troops rejoice at the heavy rain as it keeps the river high and having potatoes and fresh berries to eat.

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                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                Date:  1863-10-22

                Resource type:   correspondence

                From Catlett's Station, Virginia on the Orange & Alexandria Rail Road, Virginia topics include a description of a battle with Stuart's men near the Bull Run location in which the Union was victorious, many killed, wounded, artillery captured, wrote the newspapers were mistaken as to the outcome of the battle, his cost of living, high cost of food, glad for the comfort of Rutherford’s family at home, and marching to continue.

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                  Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                  Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                  Date:  1862-12-30

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include the whole brigade on picket duty on Bull Run, a catholic church having been emptied of its pews so as to used for a hospital, a brief encounter with Rebel soldiers, Spafford's anger with the Rebels being able to infiltrate the Union troops, the captured rebel prisoner stated aim was to take Sutler's supplies, acceptance of officers' resignations and the potential promotion of George Clark to Captain.

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                    Title:   Justus F. Gale to Father

                    Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                    Date:  1862-07-10

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Topics include the medicating himself after seeing the doctor twice to rid his diarrhea, taking of Richmond and rebel prisoners, the weather in Algiers, high price of provisions, inquires about family and the plan to go visit friends 4 miles away.

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                      Title:   Justus F. Gale to Mother

                      Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                      Date:  1863-04-11

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Topics include getting ready to march with the 19th Corps against Fort Bisland and Colonel Thomas’ confidence in the 8th Vermont. He also writes that the regiment marched over 100 miles and captured 2,200 prisoners in an addendum to his letter, dated April 21.

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                        Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                        Date:  1862-11-18

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Topics include the being saddened by the ill health of his family in Elmore, enjoying good health himself, troops living in an apparently abandoned house in Bayou Boeuf, La., the parole of the prisoners who are still alive (not clear but these may be Union soldiers taken prisoners as some were shot for running from their army and joining a Union regiment), the movement of the army on the Potomac and still unable to get a photograph of himself taken.

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                          Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister & Friends

                          Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                          Date:  1862-09-09

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include the sickness of Justus Gale’s mother and brother Charley, mentions his dismay of men trying to skip military duty, the rebel prisoners taken by various Union regiments, mentions Gen. Butler may be taking care of the guerrilla fighters and the injuries sustained by the men in the train accident whereby many seemed to have avoided amputations.

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                            Title:   Lyman Barton to Hiram Barton

                            Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

                            Date:  1863-06-28

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Lyman Barton describes a turntable built for a Confederate railway gun which was captured before it was operational. He also writes of an attack of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry led by Colonel Spear near Hanover Court House, during which General William Henry Fitzhugh Lee was captured.

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                              Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                              Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                              Date:  1864-06-25

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include Lyman’s promotion to 2nd Lieutenant of Company C, inquiries about his Canadian cousins, trying to keep cool, with a bucket of ice water to drink, needing money sent to him to pay for his new equipment as 2nd Lieutenant, a discussion about the officers in his new company, a report about the loss of prisoners by the 4th and 11th Regiments, destruction of railroad tracks and bridges.

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                                Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                Date:  1864-12-25

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Writes of good news for the Union from various theaters of war including the fall of Savannah, Georgia with the capture of 15,000 rebel prisoners & taking of Fort Fisher, his hope to be home by next Christmas, receiving his commission as Captain of Company I and his pride in it, requests his sister send him more kid gloves for the other officers in the regiment.

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                                  Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                  Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                  Date:  1865-03-21

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Writes being Brigade Officer of the Day, shaving off all his beard except a mustache, news of Sergeant John C. Swan who was exchanged and who reports that the rumors about Confederate treatment of prisoner is true, and that recruits are coming in from Vermont to fill the companies.

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                                    Title:   Mary E. Farnham to Henry

                                    Creator:  Farnham, Mary E.

                                    Date:  1862-12-24

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Mary Farnham writes from near Fairfax Court House in Virginia to her brother, Henry, of soldiers being taken prisoners, of the wounded, of casualties, of checking rabbit traps for food. She mentions the weather, of her tour of camp, of sickness among the troops, of her excellent dinner at camp with Mrs. Blunt, Mrs. Stearns and others, and writes of family back home.

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                                      Title:   Orlando S. Turner to Joseph and Louisa A. Turner

                                      Creator:  Turner, Orlando S., b. 1839

                                      Date:  1861-07-26

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include a brief account of the first Battle of Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia. Writes of the bravery of the soldiers, casualties and men killed, of his opinion that the officers were afraid to go where the soldiers were, damage to the American flag.

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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:   Ransom W. Towle to [Family and Friends]

                                          Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                          Date:  1862-06-19

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the Massachusetts 16th Regiment pushing the rebels back in heavy fighting with the Rebels in rifle pits, soldiers killed (74), prisoners taken (16) and preparations being made to move out in anticipation of battle the next day.

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                                            Title:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                            Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                            Date:  1863-03-09

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Lt. Chamberlain resigns due to illness, General Stoughton taken prisoner by Fitz Hugh Lee’s Cavalry at the Court House (Virginia), the large number of sick men in camp many with typhoid fever, fears his best horse will not regain health, enclosed pictures (ambrotype, a photograph), suggested reading for Laura with specific book titles stated as well as books he is reading (Motley's History of the Dutch Republic and Woman in White), orders for Colonel Blunt to report to the station to take command of the Brigade, description of who is in the photos being sent home.

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                                              Title:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                              Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                              Date:  1861-06-29

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include two Louisiana Zouaves who were brought in by Col. Hawkins, accounts of their desertion and capture, rumors of an advancing Confederate force, and the anticipation of an enemy attack that never occurs. .

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                                                Title:   Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

                                                Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                Date:  1863-06-10

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Train arriving from Rappahannock with wounded soldiers & rebel prisoners from fight at Brandy Station on June 9 between Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart & Union Gen. Alfred Pleasanton [part of the Gettysburg Campaign], reference to Rebel military tatic regarding Vicksburgh and Fredericksburgh, the examination of witnesses in regard to Lieutenant Hartshorn’s conduct, Captain Hazard being at Chantilly with his battery, money sent to Geo. Chamberlin

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                                                  Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                                  Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                                  Date:  1863-07-03

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  From near Westminster, MD topics include the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3), eighth day of marching for the men, the 12th guarding trains of First Corps, the false rumor General Stannard was killed, hundreds of prisoners from the battle passed by camp, ammunition exploding in wagons, replacement troops of the 15th coming in and the hope to be home soon.

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