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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: ("United StatesArmy.Vermont Infantry Regiment, 4th (1861-1865)") remove term

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Title:   Bradford Sparrow to Parents and Brothers

Creator:  Sparrow, Bradford

Date:  1863-10-12

Resource type:   correspondence

Two letters ; Oct 12 and Oct 15 ; topics include retreating from Culpepper to Rappahannock Station, the enemy's closeness, anticipation of a battle, money sent home was received, long marches every day.

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    Title:   Bradford Sparrow to Parents and Brothers

    Creator:  Sparrow, Bradford

    Date:  1864-05-13

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Two letters written here from the battlefield about having been in battle for the past 8 days although not on the front line & does not record his location, has not been hurt, has sent a photograph home, names three men who were killed.

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      Title:   Charles F. Bancroft to Clarissa Bancroft

      Creator:  Bancroft, Charles F., 1835-1862

      Date:  1862-01-15

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include drills, a prediction that the fighting will end by June, and inquiries about home. In addition to myriad details regarding weather, food, and correspondence, Bancroft inserts thoughtful questions, e.g.: "Clara do folks in our neighborhood manifest much interest in my being out here? do they seem to care a great deal about it?" He also refers to the lull in fighting--and resulting boredom-- that precedes Lincoln's general order of Jan. 27 for federal armies to advance.

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        Title:   Frederick Holbrook to John Wolcott Phelps

        Creator:  Holbrook, Frederick

        Date:  1862-03-10

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Upbeat letter delivered to Gen. Phelps by the writer's son, William C. Holbrook, who apparently turned down an offer to join Phelps's staff. The writer, Gov. Holbrook, lavishes praise on Vermont officers and soldiers (including his son), and sends warm wishes for success to Phelps, sharing his conviction that "the Union Cause must triumph." Holbrook concludes with some reflections on the difficulty of being a wartime governor.

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          Title:   George F. Davis to Smiley Bancroft

          Creator:  Davis, George F., 1815-1901

          Date:  1862-05-07

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include the death of Charles Bancroft while on the "Propeller Richard Willing" and an account of his possessions. The quartermaster's tone is remarkably sympathetic even while addressing official business.

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            Title:   George W. Quimby to Emeline B. Masta

            Creator:  Quimby, George W., 1835-1862

            Date:  1862-03-22

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Topics include the anticipation of marching to Alexandria in just over a week’s time, the resignation of Captain Tucker, and the promotion of George W. Quimby to captaincy. Mentions the slow moving Grand Army of the Potomac and the feeling that it may never see any fighting.

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              Title:   George W. Quimby to Tucker

              Creator:  Quimby, George W., 1835-1862

              Date:  1862-04-25

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include the location of the company and a brief account of the battle of Lee's Mill. Also a comment about one legislator "Morrels" (Justin Morrill?) stating that Gen. William Smith was drunk. A summary of promotions.

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                Title:   Henry L. Terry to John W. Campbell

                Creator:  Terry, Henry L., 1820-1885

                Date:  1861-10-21

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include encamping at Lee's Mill, twelve miles from Washington, close to the Rebels.

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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 Homer White

                    Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                    Date:  1862-04-29

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Now in Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C. topics include military discharge, plans to meet Homer White in New York City and the wounding of Captain Atherton.

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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:  1862-03-25

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writing from the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria VA, topics include difficulty in getting a furlough at the present time, illness among others at the hospital from the Regiment, and the keeping and responsibility of using the Company's money for needed purchases for the men.

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                          Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

                          Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

                          Date:  1862-04-16

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          A brief writing from Mansion House Hospital include possibility of getting a furlough and an incident at Yorktown with one soldier from the 4th Vermont being wounded slightly and a rebel soldier being "keeled" over.

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                            Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Family

                            Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                            Date:  1862-01-09

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Towle writes in some detail of the hardships of and the way foraging expeditions are conducted, of the cold weather, of rumors of a recall of Vermont troops and of news from home.

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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:  1862-01-29

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Towle writes to parents and friends from Camp Griffin in Virginia about foraging for wood by tearing down fences, desolation of the countryside due to the war, Southerners pretending Union sympathies so as to not be driven from their homes, of the mud, and of making a pipe for smoking from the root of a Laurel tree.

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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:  1862-02-17

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include Towle’s sickness Saturday night, of illness and death within the company and regiment, praise for officer Lieut. Pingree, reference to rumor of the capture of Savannah (does he refer to Georgia?), and a brief reference to the possible firing of guns at Fort Ethan Allen for some victory somewhere.

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                                      Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                      Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                      Date:  1861-02-27

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Writing from his Virgina camp Griffin, Towle gives a description of a Battalion Drill and the ill health effects on the soldiers, of a gale storm damaging tents and overturning an ambulance with a sick soldier inside. He writes of orders from General McClellan to be ready to move, and states men are sick and death count to date for his regiment is 66.

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                                        Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                        Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                        Date:  [1862]-03-05

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        From Camp Griffin, Towle writes of a brigade and bayonet drill, the increasing number of sick men with the death count for the regiment at 77, and of the monotony of camp life.

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                                          Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                          Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                          Date:  1861-03-22

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          From his camp near Alexandria, Virginia Towle writes of the rainy weather, muddy conditions, sleeping conditions wet and tents inadequate for keeping the soldiers dry and of the number of troops camped out in the area. Towle makes a brief reference to his father’s misfortunes [ill health?].

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                                            Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Friends

                                            Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                            Date:  1862-04-18

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Writing after a battle near Yorktown, Towle recalls those wounded and killed. States preparations continue to be made for more fighting, that provisions for the men sometimes are difficult to get, that Col Stoughton performs admirably but that General Smith was drunk and has been arrested .

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                                              Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Parents and Friends

                                              Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                              Date:  1862-05-23

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include Towle’s not receiving wages, the high prices of food, poverty in camp, the destruction of the countryside by the Rebels, how the Union soldiers are forbidden to even touch any property, the movement of the regiment in Virginia, and the attitude of the slaves towards the Yankees.

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                                                Title:   Ransom W. Towle to Rufus and Sebra Towle

                                                Creator:  Towle, Ransom W., d. 1864

                                                Date:  1862-01-11

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Towle writes from his Virginia camp to his parents about drill, military life, resignation of officers due to being unfit physically or mentally, of still needing new boots, illness, and his positive opinion of Colonel Stoughton.

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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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