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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 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:   Lyman S. Williams to [Lois L. Williams]

    Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

    Date:  [1861]-10-25

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include the journey from Montpelier to Camp Griffin.

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      Title:   Lyman S.Williams to Lois L. Williams

      Creator:  Williams, Lyman S., 1839-1905

      Date:  1861-12-09

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include the improving health of the regiment, the deaths of John Roland and Walter Osburn, and a scouting expedition.

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        Title:   Martha to Amanda Hayward

        Date:  1862-08-16

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include condolences for Wilder's death.

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          Title:   Mary E. Farnham to Henry

          Creator:  Farnham, Mary E.

          Date:  1862-12-24

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Mary Farnham writes from near Fairfax Court House in Virginia to her brother, Henry, of soldiers being taken prisoners, of the wounded, of casualties, of checking rabbit traps for food. She mentions the weather, of her tour of camp, of sickness among the troops, of her excellent dinner at camp with Mrs. Blunt, Mrs. Stearns and others, and writes of family back home.

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            Title:   Mary E. Farnham to Henry

            Creator:  Farnham, Mary E.

            Date:  1863-01-27

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Mary Farnham writes from Wolf Shoals Creek, Va. on the Occoquan River to brother Henry about desserts and other food the troops are enjoying eating, her instructions for food to be sent to brother Zeke in the 10th Regiment, terrible traveling conditions due to deep muddy roads, horses having to be walked, she riding with other officers' wives, and her feeling uncomfortable with the looks of the Southerns (Secesh)

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              Title:   Mary E. Farnham to Henry

              Creator:  Farnham, Mary E.

              Date:  1863-03-19

              Resource type:   correspondence

              From Mary Farnham to Henry topics include letters received and responded to, military action among the men, pickets and taking of Rebel soldiers, fighting engagement at Kelly’s Ford, her thoughts on the unhealthy environment she is in, the varying degrees of health or illness of the men in camp, her horse ride even though the weather has been inclement, her comments on what the military trained horses will do, the ill health and death of some horses.

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                Title:   Mary E. Farnham to Laura

                Creator:  Farnham, Mary E.

                Date:  1863-02-17

                Resource type:   correspondence

                From Mary Farnham to sister Laura with topics including a detailed description of Mary Farnham’s visit to camp, a visit to Washington visiting the Capitol & Senate buildings ; Farnham's horses sick with horse distemper, one of them being Burnie ; Mary's discomfort traveling in the ambulance ; her embarrassing slip and fall in the ambulance ; her horse ride back ; the good health of the regiment ; weight gain of Lt. Herrick ; her affection for horse Jenny.

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                  Title:   Mary H. McDuffee to Hannah Rutherford

                  Creator:  McDuffee, Mary H.

                  Date:  1865-02-23

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  A letter from Ms. McDuffee to Hannah Rutherford about a sum of money and an explanation as to why it was enclosed in the letter. It seems to indicate that McDuffee had to borrow fare money.

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                    Title:   Mary [E. Farnham] to Henry

                    Creator:  [Farnham], Mary

                    Date:  1863-02-28

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Letter from Mary to brother Henry carries a demanding tone of an older sibling to a younger one ; topics include inquiring about Henry’s examinations, her plan to stay at camp until June, responding to Henry's remarks about her being in camp saying several of the officers' wives are also in camp, the sick men in the regiment, and Mary demanding to know who thinks Mary should return home suggesting someone thinks it may not be appropriate for a woman (according the social norm of the day) to be in a military camp.

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                      Title:   Merrill F. Samson to A. Hayward

                      Creator:  Samson, Merrill F.

                      Date:  1862-07-18

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Topics include the death of Wilder; and his friend Merrill sending condolences to Wilder's mother. Wilder may have died during the Battle of Malvern Hill, which concluded the Seven Days Campaign; or in any number of skirmishes that occurred in early July.

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                        Title:   Miscellaneous

                        Creator:  Phelps, John Wolcott

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Permission for "the Negro Dawson Speedley" to leave camp. Signed by Col. Phelps.

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                          Title:   Moses W. Sawyer to William Wirt Henry

                          Creator:  Sawyer, Moses W., 1831-1916

                          Date:  1863-05-19

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Receipts for the purchase of two horses.

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                            Title:   N. A. M. Dudley to William C. Holbrook John Wolcott Phelps to N. A. M. Dudley

                            Creator:  Dudley, N. A. M.; Phelps, John Wolcott

                            Date:  1862-08-30; 1862-09-02

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Two letters; one signed by N. A. M. Dudley and the other by W. C. Holbrook requesting a Court of Inquiry to investigate allegations against the 7th Regiment participation in the Battle of Baton Rouge by a Commanding General.

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                              Title:   N. S. Leffnis

                              Creator:  Leffnis, N. S.

                              Date:  1862-12-16

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include a pass instructing guards to allow Mrs. Blunt and Mrs. Mary Farnham to cross Long Bridge and enter camp of the 12th Vermont Volunteers by order of General Casey .

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                                Title:   N. S. Leffnis to Roswell Farnham

                                Creator:  Leffnis, N. S.

                                Date:  1862-11-21

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Orders to guards to allow Roswell Farnham to travel to and from Washington and Alexandria via Long Bridge by order of General Casey ; N.S. Jeffries, Assist. Adjt. General.

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                                  Title:   Nathan A. Williams to Lois L. Williams

                                  Creator:  Williams, Nathan A., 1837-1903

                                  Date:  1862-08-24

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include the expectation of a battle and reinforcements. The anticipated battle was probably the 2nd Manassas or Bull Run campaign (Aug. 26-30, another win for the Confederates).

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                                    Title:   Note

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    A handwritten note to call Mr. Kenney of the Globe (?). Possibly a reference to someone at a newspaper. No date.

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                                      Title:   Notice

                                      Creator:  ?,

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Notice to the residents of the town of Elmore from the town clerk to gather for a meeting on the 29th of March 1864 to act on several issues before the voters including rescinding the vote on bounties.

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                                        Title:   Notice

                                        Creator:  ?,

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Notice to the legal voters of the town of Elmore, Vt to meet March 1st to transact business on several issues listed including military bounties. The year 1864 appears on last page.

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                                          Title:   Orlando S. Turner to Joseph and Louisa A. Turner

                                          Creator:  Turner, Orlando S., b. 1839

                                          Date:  1861-07-04

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Turner writes from Washington, D.C. to his parents of 80,000 Union men, of being given a "splendid flag" and of sending them $10.

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                                            Title:   Orlando S. Turner to Joseph and Louisa A. Turner

                                            Creator:  Turner, Orlando S., b. 1839

                                            Date:  1861-07-26

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include a brief account of the first Battle of Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia. Writes of the bravery of the soldiers, casualties and men killed, of his opinion that the officers were afraid to go where the soldiers were, damage to the American flag.

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                                              Title:   Quincy F. Thurston to William Wirt Henry

                                              Creator:  Thurston, Quincy F., d. 1862

                                              Date:  1862-06-07

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include an account of the battle near Richmond (maybe the Battle of Seven Pines [Fair Oaks]??), makes mention of marching, the evacuation of Yorktown, the battle of Williamsburgh, a stay at the White House and advance to the Chickahominy River.

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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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