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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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Title:  

Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

Date:  1863-04-22

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include the constant fire of gunboats, batteries, and sharpshooters, being in command of 5 companies while on picket duty, orders to be ready to march at a minutes notice and the food he is able to purchase. He also expresses his opinion that the Rebels will not be willing to engage the Union troops because of their numbers (30,000).

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    Title:  

    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

    Date:  1863-04-26

    Resource type:   correspondence

    A reconnaissance in force made by General [Michael] Corcoran, while Barney was part of the reserve left behind. Writes of rifle pits, his lack of sleep, being part of a labor party building a fort, of the area’s fortifications, of a sharpshooter who kept firing at his company until driven off by a 12 pounder shot, of prisoners taken, casualties, mud and sending money home.

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      Title:  

      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

      Date:  1863-05-03

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Barney writes of moving to a new location facing the dismal swamp, and of being called to arms in the middle of the night. As well, he describes how he disciplined a soldier who had been “saucy.” He also writes of hearing cannonading in the distance, near where they were camped the night before, and of rumors that a pontoon bridge had been built across the river there by Union soldiers.

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        Title:  

        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

        Date:  1863-05-09

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include leveling Rebel fortifications after a retreat by the Confederate Army, rumors about General Hooker’s movements, praise for Vermont troops in the New York newspapers, worry about the safety of his brother, Colonel Elisha Barney, and the results of foraging by his company. He also writes of hiring a “darkey” to help carry his luggage while on march, meeting a cousin in the 118th New York Regiment, and sending money home.

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          Title:  

          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

          Date:  1863-05-10

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include camp life with tents being combined to make larger living quarters, having a Sunday sermon preached, the high cost of food, and orders to be ready to march immediately, with three days rations. He also mentions that General Wistar has taken command of the Brigade, and how proud he is of his brother, Colonel Elisha Barney.

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            Title:  

            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

            Date:  1863-08-04

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Topics include a review of the Brigade by General [Henry Morris] Naglee, sickness in camp, and the reliability of the 9th Regiment and its officers, which causes them to be used by General [Issac Jones] Wistar in many responsible positions in the Brigade. Describes how well the officers are living, foods they are eating. Again requests photographs of his children.

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              Title:  

              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

              Date:  1863-09-13

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Barney writes of the monotony of camp life in the fort and his wish for more action. Reflects on how the Rebels must see the hopelessness of their cause, mentions wishing to go to Charlestown, Va to help win the city and of the weather is getting cooler, but the many men still sick. Is glad Maria is enjoying the outdoor excursions of fishing and riding.

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                Title:  

                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                Date:  1863-09-05

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Barney writes that his health has improved, there are 130 men on the sick list but little death. He also allays his wife’s fear that he is drinking, assures her that the officers of the 9th are not drinking men, that he is still in charge of the regiment as Col. Ripley is still on the examining board, of being hungry for milk & hopes Maria will get a barn.

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                  Title:  

                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                  Date:  1863-09-18

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include receiving news from home from Lieutenant Jewett, inquiring into what newspapers his wife is reading and whether she has had work done on building a barn. Writes winter barracks continue to be worked on. He also wishes to have photographs of his children sent to him, preferably in their every day clothing.

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                    Title:  

                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                    Date:  1863-07-31

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Two letters enclosed. Gives detailed account of his duties as officer of the day, details on camp life including cleaning the sinks (latrines), of some of the sight-seeing he has done and hopes to do in the area of Yorktown, of sickness in the camp, of rain and lightening that killed one horse & injured several others. As well, he complains of Vermont towns that pay $300 rather than send anyone who has been drafted, compares them to the rebels. Requests photographs of the children Fred and Carrie.

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                      Title:  

                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                      Date:  1863-09-09

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Barney writes of the men repairing the barracks in preparation for the winter, and of having a photograph taken of his horse. He also writes of food for breakfast, getting a firkin (56 lbs.) of butter of acquiring a cow for the field and staff officers’ mess and of hearing from Major Jarvis who will be traveling to Brattleboro shortly.

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                        Title:  

                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                        Date:  1863-08-18

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Very short letter in which Barney lists all his activities, including sitting on the examining board, holding a court martial, commanding the Regiment and being complimented by the Officer of the Day on the cleanliness of the camp.

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                          Title:  

                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                          Date:  1863-08-14

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Letter is short because Barney in command of the Regiment and many duties, including signing passes for each Company. Writes that Colonel Ripley is sitting on an examining board which examines the competency of officers sent before it. No Vermont officers will be examined. Writes of keeping the camp clean to try and avoid sickness with the help of a mule and cart to remove debris daily. .

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                            Title:  

                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                            Date:  1863-08-09

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Writes of excessive heat, mosquitoes, responds to his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t write enough letters to her ; mentions several individuals (Capt Reynolds of Gen Wistar's staff, Qr Master Sawyer and Gen. Stannard) ; writes about how being absent from his family has led him to appreciate family life more dearly, suggests the idea of bringing home a "contraband" (i.e. a young person about 12 to 15 years old), again asks for photographs of the children, Fred and Carrie.

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                              Title:  

                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                              Date:  1863-08-21

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include sitting on the examining board, officers resigning in fear of the board, and a description of a picture drawn by a 16 year old boy from Company C of Barney's quarters, including the Negro contraband boy who is taking care of his horse. As well, he includes a photograph of his good friend Dr. Carpenter. He also describes the kind of food they eat in their mess.

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                                Title:  

                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                Date:  1863-07-27

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                A description of the regiment's difficult expedition to commandeer & capture guerrilla fighters, horses & weapons. Negroes pressed into service as guides. Mentions can't get horses so must confiscate them. Women cried when horses taken. Took a trip to a local ten acre peach orchard, eating many & taking some to camp. Requests white handkerchiefs.

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                                  Title:  

                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                  Date:  1863-09-28

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Barney writes of sickness in the Regiment, and of six deaths, one of whom was shot by a negro soldier. He also writes of hiring a new negro servant, as his old servant had “too much white blood in him.”

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                                    Title:  

                                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                    Date:  1863-07-10

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Regiment moving into the Rebel fort at Yorktown and of being ordered to evict the 179th Pennsylvania Regiment from the barracks. He also writes of promotions in his former company, and of buying a splendid horse for $225. He comments on the expense of getting “rigged out” as a lieutenant colonel.

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                                      Title:  

                                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                      Date:  1863-08-31

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Barney writes of falling ill after eating lobster, of getting paid off for three months which allow him to pay of debts including cost of his horse, and of buying books on military tactics. He also writes of how difficult it would be to get leave until next fall or the winter and of sending home some melon seeds for Maria to plant in the spring.

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                                        Title:  

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  1863-07-08

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Barney writes of returning to the regiment at West Point, Virginia and of some of his new duties as a field officer. He also writes of the difficulty of sleeping due to mosquitoes, of swimming in the Pamunkey River, his commission dated May 24th.

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                                          Title:  

                                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                          Date:  1863-07-03

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          While in the Chesapeake Hospital near Fort Monroe, Virginia he writes of what to do with the money sent home by soldiers in his company, his belief that his illness stems from inadequately cooked food and offering advice to his wife about her own cooking. Can not find a horse to purchase. Mentions the 4th of July preparations and reading Lanmere by Vermonter Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr.

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                                            Title:  

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1863-07-20

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Duty as judge in trying criminals in the Regiment, his interest in receiving news about Swanton residents who were conscripted (drafted), his amusement over the possible identities of some of the conscripts, & the cost of keeping up appearances (being outfitted). He comments that he & the Colonel get along amicably and that some of the officers will be returning to Vermont to bring back the conscripts (draftees) that have been assigned to the Regiment.

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                                              Title:  

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  1863-08-23

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Laments of trying to write the letter with other officers having a conversation around him, of the heat which curtails his exercise, and of having a photograph taken of his dark bay horse, Frank, and his contraband boy, both of whom he hopes to take back to Swanton as well as a little white dog for his children Carrie and Fred. He also writes of “Jewettville,” the negro contraband village, named after Lt. Jewett also known as Slabtown.

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                                                Title:  

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1863-07-14

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Barney writes that the Brigade will be doing garrison duty, and that he was Brigade officer of the day. He also writes that the field officers live very well but that it is costly, and that the bathing is good there. Writes of sending a book to Fred, & a souvenir, a percussion tube used to fire heavy guns, and warns his wife not to pull hard on the wire, in case it goes off. Hopes "to hear of Lee's destruction today."

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                                                  Title:  

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1863-09-23

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Barney writes of imagining himself at home with his family, and of fixing up the camp barracks for winter with comfortable living quarters. He thanks his wife for sending him slippers and asks for cloth, shirts, towels and socks to be sent to him.

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