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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:  1864-01-31

Resource type:   correspondence

Letter discusses the arrival of new recruits to his regiment, his amusement at the actions of the new recruits, a raid against Rebels, of wanting his horse from Vermont and of visiting a local woman who had small pox. There is also an amusing account of being thrown from a horse.

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    Title:  

    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

    Date:  1864-02-05

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Letter discusses the surprise Confederate attack on the Newport Barracks, part of the Pickett’s attack on New Bern, forced retreat of the Union troops, loss of their fort, loss of soldiers' possessions. Barney writes of the loss of men and the performance of the new recruits, and also of his feelings about retreating and his lack of sleep. As well he writes of the arrival of reinforcements and the possibility of a counter attack.

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      Title:  

      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

      Date:  1864-02-09

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Tells of the attack on the Newport Barracks, as well as the condition of the Barracks after they returned. Barney writes of the loss of goods and personal items by the soldiers, though his were saved by his servant, Little Cooney. He also writes of the dead and wounded found at the Barracks, as well as the treatment of the wounded and dead by the Confederate soldiers.

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        Title:  

        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

        Date:  1864-02-12

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Barney writes of a scouting expedition to see if the Confederates are nearby, and of finding wounded Confederate soldiers who had been stripped of their clothing, as well as wounded Union soldiers who had been paroled. He also writes of nearly being killed in the attack at Newport Barracks, and of being complimented by Colonel James Jourdan for his handling of the incident.

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          Title:  

          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

          Date:  1864-02-17

          Resource type:   correspondence

          A very brief letter expressing his relief that his son, Fred, has recovered completely. He also writes that Lieutenant Erastus W. Jewett had received news of the death of his father and was thinking of resigning, though Barney hopes he will not. He also describes his tent and its fireplace.

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            Title:  

            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

            Date:  1864-02-21

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Barney writes of feeling a little homesick and wishing to be with his family, but also that he feels his duty is with the army, contemplates asking for a leave of absence but is afraid it would be too hard to return to his post, writes of plans to celebrate Washington’s birthday & of sending a map of the countryside.

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              Title:  

              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

              Date:  1864-02-25

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Barney writes of his men working hard on the defenses of the camp and of the lack of time needed to drill the new recruits. He also is disappointed that his new horse has not arrived yet, as his mare has gone lame with overriding. He also writes that the Boston paper’s description of the attack is wrong and that his wife should read the official reports of the action; eggs for food.

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                Title:  

                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                Date:  1864-02-29

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Sending money home, discusses his urgent need of his horse and his desire that it be sent as soon as possible despite the cost. Also he writes that they are expecting the Confederates to attack soon at Newbern and Newport.

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                  Title:  

                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                  Date:  1864-03-06

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Barney writes that the expected attack has not yet occurred and that he is afraid there will be no attack, as the camp is very well defended. There are breastworks all around the camp and the ground has been cleared. He also writes of his disappointment at the news that the horse he has been waiting for has been sold, and describes his new tent and his new tent mate, Major Bartlett.

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                    Title:  

                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                    Date:  1864-03-14

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Barney writes of attending the courts-martial of Captain Russell Conwell, of staying in New Bern at the camp of Lt. Col. Strong of the 19th Wisconsin, his activities of riding along the Trent River, seeing the Old Evans Plantation, supper on his visit there, of attending church and how he was reminded of two churches in Swanton. He writes wistfully of seeing the families of officers stationed in New Bern and envisions riding down the street with his own wife.

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                      Title:  

                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                      Date:  1864-03-19

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Barney writes of the death of Major Amasa Bartlett, superstition now connected with the Major's ranking, of receiving the express box from home, appreciation of the food in the box. He then spends the rest of the letter addressing his wife’s concerns about salvation, and gives a lengthy exposition of his religious beliefs.

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                        Title:  

                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                        Date:  1864-03-23

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Barney writes of catching up on his correspondence, and of the Regiment being ordered to plant a vegetable garden. He complains that if they do, they are sure to be ordered somewhere else when it is ready to be harvested. He also writes of the money owed to Dr. Morgan for attendance on his son, Fred, and for the Doctor’s purchase of a horse.

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                          Title:  

                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                          Date:  1864-03-26

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Barney writes in reply to his wife’s question about his horse, informing her that he has applied to the government for a horse, but if it falls through, he will want one from Vermont. He also expresses his unhappiness with the way Dr. Morgan procured the last horse. He also writes of a drunk soldier and how he has punished drunkenness in the Regiment before.

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                            Title:  

                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                            Date:  1863-04-02

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            A brief letter telling of traveling by railroad from Chicago to Baltimore with 451 Confederate prisoners captured at Murfreesboro and Arkansas Post, speculation about where the 9th Vermont will be stationed and mentions Col. Stowell

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                              Title:  

                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                              Date:  1863-04-04

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Writes of traveling by the steamer Long Island from City Point to Fort Monroe, of how woebegone City Point looks due to bombing, seeing the Confederate flag flying, searching the Confederate prisoners, finding many Union items, such as canteens and haversacks which were taken from them, of prisoners being paroled as no Union soldiers ready yet to be exchanged. He also mentions seeing naval ships at Newport News, and where the Regiment might go next.

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                                Title:  

                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                Date:  1863-04-06

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Two letters enclosed. Still on the steamer Long Island at Norfolk, Virginia waiting for the rest of the Regiment before moving on, the Regiment traveling a lot seeing the country, contraband items distributed among the officers and men, seeing men harvesting oysters in the river. He also mentions sightseeing in Norfolk, Virginia, buying pants there, and oysters both raw and fried.

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                                  Title:  

                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                  Date:  1863-04-10

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Letter head contains a red emblem with star and shield. Topics include arriving at Camp Hamilton, other regiments and companies in the area, getting used to sleeping outside again, getting tents set up, food less available but oysters plentiful, hopes he will begin receiving letters from his wife, since the Regiment has settled into camp.

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                                    Title:  

                                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                    Date:  1863-04-12

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Reflects on how different the Sabbath is for him while in the Army, of borrowing a horse to ride for the first time in a long while to make his rounds as “officer of the day”, a seven mile circuit. Writes of hearing heavy cannonading, 9th NY Infantry Regiment Hawkins Zouaves, & of rumors of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Edward A. Kimball as the Siege of Suffolk (Virginia April 11 - May 4) begins. Discusses his feelings about recent promotions in the Regiment and his fear that the Regiment will be consolidated with another.

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                                      Title:  

                                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                      Date:  1863-04-17

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      A short letter letting his wife know that the Regiment has moved closer to Suffolk, Virginia, and that their position is very defensible. He mentions that the move was sudden and that he lost a shirt and underclothes, but is able to make do. The conditions are primitive and he will need to write reports on a table outside his tent.

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                                        Title:  

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  1863-04-19

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Writes of moving camp again to along the Nansemond River (tributary of the James River), lack of sleep due to being on picket duty, coming under fire by enemy sharpshooters. He continues the letter by describing coming into the new camp after picket duty and being roused from sleep to prepare for another march because the enemy has crossed the river.

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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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