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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: ("Skirmishing") remove term

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Title:   Henry A. Smith to Clarissa A. Smith

Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

Date:  1863-01-09

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include rebel raids on the pickets, how comfortable their camp is, what he wants in a box his family will be sending him, including a baked chicken and maple sugar. He also mentions his views about the war and whether France will come in on the Confederate side. Mentions CSA Gen. Jeb Stuart and his cavalry raids.

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    Title:   Henry A. Smith to Clarissa A. Smith

    Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

    Date:  1863-03-16

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include resuming encampment after living indoors for a while. An early March skirmish in Aldie, Va. is mentioned, as is the capture of General E.H. Stoughton in bed, in a daring raid by CSA Capt. John S. Mosby at Fairfax County Court House. Mosby managed to capture dozens of union soldiers, learn the "Countersign," or password, and go wherever he wanted. (The embarrassment ended Stoughton's military career.) Smith mentions his wish for a photograph of his siblings, and his wish for news from home.

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      Title:   Henry A. Smith to Clarissa A. Smith

      Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

      Date:  1863-06-02

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include his praise of the work being done at home on the farm by his brothers, a description of Mosby’s attack on the train at Catlett’s Station (May 31st), and his wish that his mother use his money to purchase more pasture land in Royalton.

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        Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

        Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

        Date:  1862-05-16

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include General Banks' Division falling back to Strasburgh, the frequent skirmishes with Ashbys Cavalry, an account of a man in Company I who shot a rebel, Smith's hand wounded by a fellow soldier playing carelessly with a sabre, men eating well, mention of Oliver Cushman of Hartland who was promoted to second Lieutenant, reference to military pay.

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          Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

          Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

          Date:  1862-08-14

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Six miles south of Culpeper (Virginia) two letters included dated Aug 15 and Aug 15. Topics include an exchange of fire near the Orange Court House, the numerous rebel deaths, injuries, and prisoners, and another terrible battle at Culpeper with references to Jackson, Banks and John Pope.

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            Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

            Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

            Date:  1862-09-24

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Topics include Henry Smith losing his horse, camp punishment of John H. Willard for disobeying an order, and the numerous men who were wounded and killed.

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              Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

              Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

              Date:  1862-11-06

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Two letters dated Nov 6 and Nov 11.Topics include a skirmish at Thoroughfare Gap, Henry Smith out riding the rebels thus avoiding almost being captured, a number of Union soldiers captured, lots of honey and fowl to eat and the burning of Haymarket.

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                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                Date:  1863-09-18

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include the regiment moving to Culpeper, Virginia on high ground along the Blue Ridge, skirmishing nearby, going with Dr. Childe and Col. Henry to see deserters shot but they were not shot, no military pay because the regiment moved, glad daughter Helen taking an interest in domestic duties, sadness over the desolate condition of the countryside and George moving to Washington permanently.

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                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                  Date:  1863-12-13

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include a his experiences on November 27th in the Battle of Mine Run that took place near Locust Grove (Orange County, Virginia), meager food for Thanksgiving meal, marching to the forest known as the "Wilderness", the way in which the wounded were cared for, praise for Capt. Steele and the service all the men did for their country.

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                    Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                    Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                    Date:  1863-01-04

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    From Centreville, Va., a brief letter to sister Mary Jane requesting copies of the Boston Daily Journal with information about the battles of Bull Run (August 1862) and Chantilly (September 1862), mention of skirmish of cavalry pickets with the rebels, of how desolate the area is with empty, burned buildings and Joseph’s good health.

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                      Title:   Justus F. Gale to Brother

                      Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                      Date:  1862-02-07

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Writing from Brattleboro, Vermont, topics include news of bombardment of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River (February 6, 1862) by Commodore Andrew Hull Foote (officer of the U.S. Navy) and General Ulysses S. Grant, a skirmish that resulted in finding a barrel of rum, food sometimes good but not the hash made in camp and the vaccination of the company for pox.

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                        Title:   Justus F. Gale to Father

                        Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                        Date:  1862-11-07

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Gale writes of his regiment and the rebels, of other troops encountering the enemy who left much camp supplies, cannon, etc. behind, receiving the Green Mountain Freeman, trying to appease both parents concerning the farm and deeding it back to his father, his concerns about his father having another woman in his life and how that affects him, and the expectation that the regiment will return to Algiers.

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                          Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                          Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                          Date:  1862-05-22

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include trying to figure out where letters may have gone missing, letters taking several weeks to arrive, not receiving the Green Mountain Freeman, the lack of details about the taking of New Orleans, and Justus Gale being on guard last night.

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                            Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                            Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                            Date:  1863-05-01

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Gale writes a long description of his company’s role in the Battle of Fort Bisland on April 12th and 13th, and is pleased by General Banks’ praise of the performance of the 8th Vermont Regiment. He also writes of his pleasure at receiving a photograph of Emily Taft of Barre, and his wish that he could have photographs of all his family, though he would be unable to carry them all in his wallet. As well, he writes of picking up Confederate money from a house that was abandoned before the advance of the “damd yankees” and of seeing rich clothing that he wished he could send home.

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                              Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

                              Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

                              Date:  1863-05-29

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Gale begins his letter with a humorous poem. He then writes that the 8th Vermont is now with the Corps laying siege to Port Hudson, which is strongly fortified and describes a skirmish that resulted in two killed and three wounded from his Company. He also writes that there is constant cannonading and that his company is behind one hill, while the rebels are behind another nearby, and that one day he shot 100 cartridges. He tells his sister he has plenty to eat and that he is safe, even when in action, since he only has to show his head enough to fire.

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                                Title:   Lyman Barton to Hiram Barton

                                Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

                                Date:  1863-05-01

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Lyman Barton writes a detailed description of the capture of the Confederate battery at Hill’s Point on May 19, 1863, when his company and six others from the 8th Connecticut Infantry Regiment and eight companies of the 89th New York Infantry Regiment boarded the U.S.S. Stepping Stones and traveled up the Nansemond River to assault the rifle pits and fort.

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                                  Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                  Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                  Date:  1863-06-10

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Regiment engaged the Rebels, gives a good account of the skirmish across the Rappahannock River with heavy gunfire that forced the Confederates to retreat ; gives casualties and wounded ; reference to Gen. Hooker not planning to engage the enemy at this location at the present time.

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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:   Roswell Farnham to Laura

                                      Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                      Date:  1863-03-21

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      About ambrotype photo well received by Laura, that is well be protected by glass, his letter having been read in Sunday School by Mr. McKeen, instructions regarding financial matters at home, greetings to folks at home, inquiry about financial and other issues regarding Cyrus including wishing to have a "miniature" by Cyrus, and Roswell Farnham being put in charge of the detachment of Wolf Run Shoals, more details about the Kelly's Ford engagement on the 17th.

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                                        Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                                        Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                        Date:  1863-05-16

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the expectation of many to be mustered out of service soon, false alarms with gun fire, skirmishes around where the regiment is, the locations of the other regiments including the 14th, 15th and 16th regiments, the health of several individuals, obtaining ice water and iced current wine from Mr. Bowen's sister who lives in the area, him reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, and mentions his horse, Burnie.

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                                          Title:   Theodore Barton to Sister

                                          Creator:  Barton, Theodore

                                          Date:  1862-09-29

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the journey from Harrison's Landing to Boliver via Newport News and Alexandria. Names several wounded and deceased soldiers, perhaps known by his sister. Concludes with a somewhat gruesome description of "picnic."

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                                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1862-09-22

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Writing from Camp Parole topics include a hard march to the camp near Annapolis, being paroled and possibly being sent out West to fight the Indians or sent to home state and a detailed description of an engagement at Harpers Ferry (West Virginia) that included heavy fire, skirmishing Rebels, Union soldiers abandoning their posts, troops falling back, white flag raised by the Union soldiers, men discarding their revolvers and swords, mingling of the Confederates with the Union men as comrades in arms.

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                                              Title:   Wheelock G. Veazey to Julia A. Veazey

                                              Creator:  Veazey, Wheelock G., 1835-1898

                                              Date:  1862-04-17

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              From Camp Winfield Scott topics include Motts battery engaging the rebels, an account of Wheelock Veazey’s regiment driving the rebels back, references to several officers and their men and the losses during the skirmishes.

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                                                Title:   William Bruidnell and Samuel Morey to William Wirt Henry

                                                Creator:  Bruidnell, William, b. 1842; Morey

                                                Date:  1862-07-19

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include a description of the Battle of Mechanicsville (June 26-27, 1862), part of the Seven Days campaign near Richmond.

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                                                  Title:   William C. Holbrook to Frederick Holbrook

                                                  Creator:  Holbrook, William Cune, 1842-1904

                                                  Date:  1862-07-01

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Writing to his father, Gov. Holbrook, from the steamer, Morning Sight near Vicksburg topics include asking if he can have a battery to command, mentions Fort Pike, the desire to join the artillery service, the hope to be given captaincy, and the slow bombardments by the rebels but there was an attack by 3000 Confederates thinking to board the Union mortar boats only to be beaten back when fired upon.

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