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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:   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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                                  Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                  Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                  Date:  1861-07-29

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  July 29, 1861. Topics include a flag of truce coming into the fort in order to collect baggage of Rebels Mr. Shurtliff (an artist) and Captain Jenkins who were taken prisoner, mentions the names of several ships (Dale, Monticello, Penguin, Hope).

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                                    Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                    Date:  1861-06-30

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Writes from Newport, Va. of his improving health after a bout of illness, of about 6000 Rebels in the area which the company is out scouting, the capture of two prisoners from a Regiment of Zouaves from Louisiana who voluntarily surrendered as they thought their company had moved out without them, of Barney's weight loss, death of a man from the Middlebury Co. and his funeral.

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                                      Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                      Date:  [1861]-07-14

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include the dates in which Valentine G. Barney will head home, the arrival of a telegraph wire from Newport News to the fort which will help the officers communicate quickly, the meeting of scouting party with Secessionists, the death of at least one of them, of 10 Union soldiers being taken prisoners and the news that the Fort is ready for use.

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                                        Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  [1861]-07-23

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the plan for the journey home, the death of Whitney of the Woodstock Co. by the hands of forty or fifty rebels, the capture of two rebels, and of only a few men ill in the hospital.

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                                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                          Date:  1862-07-27

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Writing from Camp Siegle, Virginia, topics include the journey to camp, their train cars running off the track with no injuries to the men, other men camping in the area being demoralized. He is in Gen. Piatts Brigade and Pope's division. Writes the hill being fortified with hard labor by the men, food in camp being good but not so good when on the move. Mentions the boys from Swanton being well. Six rebel scouts captured, one believed to pretend to be crazy but a grave ordered to be dug for the prisoner in hopes of getting him to confess his pretense.

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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:  1862-09-20

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include Barney and other men being taken prisoner at Harpers Ferry while on picket guard duty, being paroled and walking towards Annapolis, sleeping with no gear or equipment, little to eat but hard bread and raw pork, and the promise to give a detailed account of the events when Barney has more time to write. Maryland Campaign Sept 3-15, 1862.

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1862-09-27

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                While in transport Barney writes of heading for Chicago along with others as prisoners, states he had a good breakfast that included much relished butter, speculates they are being moved West as it is cheaper than keeping them East, thinks they will not be exchanged any time soon, feels humiliated to be sold but proud of having done his duty. States the arrest of all the officers in the brigade except Colonel Stannard who has taken command. Mentions photographs he is sending home.

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1862-10-01

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Writing from Chicago topics include the journey to an area 2 miles from Chicago, a description of the living quarters that include a good dinner, fixing up the sheds they are living in which are on the fairgrounds (the site of a Sanitary Fair to benefit soldier relief funds, Oct. 27, 1863), the morale of the men, food of pork, bread, beef, talk of being relocated to Minnesota, and the disparate need for money.

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