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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:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

Date:  1863-03-15

Resource type:   correspondence

Lyman Barton writes of his travels from Fredericksburg to Newport News via a steamer, and then on to Suffolk. While at Newport News he saw a monitor and the U.S.S. Galena, as well as the wrecks of the U.S.S. Merrimack (C.S.S. Virginia) and the U.S.S. Cumberland and U.S.S. Congress. He also comments on the lack of alcohol available to the troops and that while he is not a drinker, he is “as bad can be” and that it is “hard spoiling a rotten egg.”

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    Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

    Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

    Date:  1863-08-02

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Lyman writes about wishing to receive more letters from his sister, as he is lonely in camp, even though it sounds like he is enjoying himself. He points out the battles printed on the bottom of the writing paper he is using, saying that he was in the last four of them. The letter continues with a detailed description of the movements of his Brigade. He also mentions “confiscating” a beef, writing that soldiers don’t steal, only confiscate and the only difficulty was getting the beef into the camp.

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      Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

      Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

      Date:  1863-09-10

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Lyman Barton writes of the movements of his Brigade and mentions that the Regiment has received 166 conscripts and that all but one are substitutes. He also mentions that he is unwell.

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        Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

        Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

        Date:  1863-12-01

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Lyman Barton writes of his return to his regiment after spending time at home on sick leave. He also writes of two men being shot for desertion from his regiment, one from his own company. Both men were drafted and he tells the story of the wife of one man coming to camp after his execution, of her being told the news of his death by the company cook, of Portsmouth newspaper reports on Gen Grant and Gen Meade's capture of Rebel prisoners, of comfortable tent to live in with stove.

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          Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

          Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

          Date:  1864-01-31

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Lyman Barton writes of returning to his regiment, even though he was due more sick leave. He also comments on men from Moriah and Crown Point who have not enlisted and those who have. As well he mentions gossip from home and teases his sister about her Vermont suitor. Finally, he includes a memoranda of his activities from January 1 to January 15, including detailing the food he eats daily and the games played by the 15th Connecticut Regiment on New Year’s Day.

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            Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

            Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

            Date:  1864-07-07

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Lyman Barton comments on the Second Battle of Petersburg on June 15 to 18, writing that though they were almost successful in taking Petersburg, the arrival of General Hancock slowed the assault until the defenses were fortified. He also writes of his sister mistaking shoulder scales, worn by privates, for an officer’s badge in a photograph she received, mentioning that the Colored Troops wore these shoulder scales but discarded them when in the field. He gives only a passing mention to the Battle of Cold Harbor.

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              Title:   Lyman Barton to Melissa Barton

              Creator:  Barton, Lyman, 1839-1936

              Date:  1864-08-12

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Lyman Barton writes of how disgusted he is with the outcome of the Battle of the Crater (i.e. Battle of Petersburg Cater, Va.) ,and how he feels it was the “shamefullest thing that I have seen or herd of since I have been out” blaming generals of jealousy of one another resulting in great loss of men. He also writes of having been in 12 or 13 battles and not gotten hurt yet plus gives news of two of his brothers, Henry and Hiram, who are both in the hospital.

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                Title:   Lyman Barton to Sister

                Creator:  Barton, Lyman

                Date:  1862-11-25

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Topics include an account of the Battle of Antetam [sic], the cold weather, the high prices of goods at camp, and reports on the health of other soldiers and family members.

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                  Title:   Lyman S. Willams to Lois L. Williams

                  Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                  Date:  1862-07-09

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include the camp being shelled twice, the regiment camping on the east bank of the James River, the losses in both armies, and the regiment being reviewed by President Lincoln.

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                    Title:   Lyman S. Willams to Lois L. Williams

                    Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                    Date:  1862-07-27

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Topics include the quietness of camp near Harrisons Landing, a church service that Lyman Williams attended, and the food Lyman misses from home.

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                      Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Caroline Williams

                      Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                      Date:  1861-11-16

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Topics include the comforts of camp life.

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                        Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Carrie A. Williams

                        Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                        Date:  1864-11-13

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Topics include moving camp towards Winchester, Virginia, a Confederate attack on the picket lines resulting in rebel prisoners, captured artillery & ammunition trains, receiving his commission as 1st Lieutenant of Company I, and his happiness that President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected.

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                          Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Family

                          Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                          Date:  1863-12-04

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Writes of receiving a box from home with food and much needed clothing. He hears of fighting in Tennessee and Kentucky.

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                            Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                            Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                            Date:  1862-01-29

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Topics include the sick in Essex and at camp, the knee deep mud, and Lyman Williams' plan to send money home.

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                              Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                              Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                              Date:  1862-02-18

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the warm, muddy weather, the success of the Burnsides Expedition, the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, and the possibility of either marching to Manassas and on to Richmond or back to Vermont.

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                                Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                Date:  1862-04-01

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include the journey from Alexandria to Newport News.

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                                  Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                  Date:  1862-05-18

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include the hard marching to a camp owned by the rebel Colonel Lee and requests for items to be sent from home.

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                                    Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                    Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                    Date:  1863-01-29

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Letter to sister, Lois, about the 6th regiment's long hard march due to rain and muddy roads ; had to haul artillery, baggage and pontoon trains with great difficulty ; has been relieved from orderly duties ; wishes box from home to be sent ; heavy snow (6 inches) fallen ; asks for postage stamps.

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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 Lois L. Williams

                                        Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                        Date:  1863-07-09

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Recounts a long march to Gettysburg and of laying in wait for the enemy, engaged in a skirmish with the Rebels, one brigade left to deal with them and the rest of the men returned to camp where time was spent socializing. Writes some of the Vermont men sent home and states that he is sending letters home via Alf. Olmstead for safekeeping.

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                                          Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                          Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                          Date:  1863-08-06

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Writes his health is good, the weather is hot, the men have a good camp ground and good water close by. States he has received letters from home and tells of the different types of food crops grown in Virginia ; gives his opinion of some men folk at home, of men drafted but who run away and refuse to fight, and sends this letter with no postage stamp as his request for some has not yet been fulfilled.

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                                            Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                            Date:  1863-08-22

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Writing from New York City, Williams recounts trip via train and steamboat from Warrenton, Va to the city. Purpose of the trip is thought to be to enforce the draft. Accident involving the steamboat and a schooner en route resulted in two men killed and one lost overboard. Military pay received spent partly on weapons to give to the officers out of respect.

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                                              Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                              Date:  1863-09-07

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Williams has left NYC via steamboat, Rip Van Winkle and thought to be on way to Albany, NY ; had a chance to visit with friends ; draft continued with no trouble but threats were made to burn the city if the draft was brought to NYC.

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                                                Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                                Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                                Date:  1863-09-16

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Recounts trip to from New York City to Washington, D.C. via steamboat and train ; warmly welcomed in Philadelphia on the way ; states visited with folks and had received ten dollars from his father.

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                                                  Title:   Lyman S. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                                  Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

                                                  Date:  1863-10-04

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Writes of family back home, that there is no military activity at present and of being asked if he might like to meet a young lady, Miss M. M. G. (i.e. Mary Gorton who later becomes his wife)

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