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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:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

Date:  1862-10-20

Resource type:   correspondence

Topics include Roswell Farnham having a difficult time controlling his horse and an injury sustained as a result.

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    Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

    Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

    Date:  1862-10-29

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include the continued improvement of Roswell Farnham’s foot injury and orders to march the next day.

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      Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

      Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

      Date:  1862-11-02

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include the movement of the regiment from Capitol Hill to Camp Seward and down across Hunting Creek and finally setting up camp on the Potomac near Mount Vernon.

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        Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

        Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

        Date:  1862-11-06

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include the possibility of Roswell Farnham being promoted to Colonel if Colonel Blunt is promoted, the potential for the regiment to move, and business from home.

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          Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

          Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

          Date:  1862-11-09

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Farnham writes from nearby Hunting Creek, Virginia at the headquarters of the 12th Vermont Volunteers about the cold weather in the South, eleven sick in the hospital, two of which had shot themselves. Reference made to Gen. McClellan being superseded by Gen. Burnside.

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            Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

            Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

            Date:  1862-10-26

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Topics include the improvement of Roswell Farnham’s foot injury and money issues at home.

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              Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

              Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

              Date:  1862-11-14

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Writes from Camp Vermont, 12th Regiment Vermont Volunteers headquarters to his wife, Mary, of officers' huts being built, of his visit to Washington's estate Mt. Vernon, description of the grounds and tombs of George and Martha, arrangements for when Mary comes to visit, and of a battalion drill.

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                Title:   Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

                Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                Date:  1862-11-12

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Farnham writes from Camp Vermont headquarters of the 12th Regiment Vermont Volunteers to his wife, Mary, about her preparing for a visit to camp, what needed items she might bring and what discomforts she might expect living in a small hut he is building. He mentions other wives visiting their spouses, Mrs. Blunt and Mrs. Vaughn. Writes of anticipation of homesickness.

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                  Title:   S. P. Heintzleman to ?

                  Creator:  Heintzleman, S. P.

                  Date:  1861-06-05

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include orders prohibiting anyone from entering the premises or grounds of G. Mason.

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                    Title:   Salmon Dutton to John Wolcott Phelps

                    Creator:  Dutton, Salmon

                    Date:  1861-09-07

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Topics include Salmon Dutton requesting the position of Brig. Gen. John Wolcott Phelps' "Aides de Camp". Dutton outlines at length his military experience and with whom he has served. Mentions General William F. Smith, Col. Barker, Captain Tuttle, Major General McClellan, General King.

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                      Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to ?

                      Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                      Date:  1862-12-10

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Heaton writes that he is sending money home ($20), and that he needs $1 in postage stamps sent to him (the rest can go toward Lucy's board at school during the winter). His camp site, Belle Plains, Va., lies just east of Fredericksburg, the site of a major battle (Dec. 11-15, 1862) that began a day after Heaton wrote this note; hence, the need to be ready with sixty rounds of "catridges."

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                        Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Family

                        Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                        Date:  1861-07-30

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Topics include an account of the journey from Camp Baxter.

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                          Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Father

                          Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                          Date:  1863-10-04

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Writing a brief letter to his father, Solomon G. Heaton’s states his dislike for General Mead of the Army of the Potomac, mention of Gen. McClellan and requests several clothing items to be sent from home including boots, gloves and food such as tea, cheese, bread, maple sugar.

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                            Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Father

                            Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                            Date:  1863-11-24

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Topics include the anticipated move of the army, the branding and branding of two soldiers, disapproves of this action by the army, requests food and clothing from home.

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                              Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Father

                              Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                              Date:  1861-11-17

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the cold weather at Camp Griffin.

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                                Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Father

                                Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                                Date:  1862-10-30

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                As Heaton indicates, the Army of the Potomac crossed the river into Virginia at the time this letter was written (Gen. George McClellan would soon be removed, however, and succeeded by Gen. Ambrose Burnside). There is no record of a "very hard fight" at Gordonsville, Va. Gen. Wm. Buel Franklin was implicated in some intrigue against Burnside, and both were relieved of their command in Jan., 1863. Heaton complains about harsh treatment by his commanding officer and being denied a rubber blanket. Nevertheless, he claims to be in good spirits.

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                                  Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

                                  Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                                  Date:  1861-12-25

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include a brief account of Thanksgiving and Christmas at Camp Griffin.

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                                    Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

                                    Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

                                    Date:  1862-03-17

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    With Heaton's words, "the great Army of the Potomac has at last started," we get a sense of impatience, on the soldier's part, with Gen. George McClellan's well-known reluctance to send men into battle. The date of this letter coincides within the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign, which deployed over 121,000 Union soldiers. Perhaps Heaton's regiment, camped somewhere in Virginia, is about to meet up with this "offul Army down on the co[a]st it numbers 90 thousand men" as part of the Campaign. He notes some of the destruction left behind by retreating rebels, most notably the burned homes near Fairfax courthouse, supposedly where George and Martha Washington were married. (The home owned by Martha Custis, Washington's betrothed, was indeed burned in 1862 because of the war. This is believed to have been a likely site of the marriage in early January, 1759.) Other place names mentioned: Mannassas, Centerville.

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                                      Title:   Theodore Barton to Sister

                                      Creator:  Barton, Theodore

                                      Date:  1862-09-29

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include the journey from Harrison's Landing to Boliver via Newport News and Alexandria. Names several wounded and deceased soldiers, perhaps known by his sister. Concludes with a somewhat gruesome description of "picnic."

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                                        Title:   Thomas H. Halsey to John Wolcott Phelps

                                        Creator:  Halsey, Thomas H.

                                        Date:  1861-09-05

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include John Wolcott Phelps' pay as Colonel for the 1st Vermont Volunteers and as Brigadier General once he accepts the position.

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                                          Title:   Unidentified Map

                                          Creator:  Farnham, Roswell, 1827-1903

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Map that shows major landmarks such as Fortress Monroe, Hampton, and Camp Butler on the James River; and sites having to do with the Battle of Big Bethel, e.g. Big & Little Bethel (meeting houses), "Battlefield," and "Collision between U.S. forces," just south of Little Bethel.

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                                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1863-01-01

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Writing from Camp Douglas in Chicago, Ill. Barney reflects on and hopes for an end to the war, his loneliness, longing to be with his family, of money he owed being paid on J. P. Jewetts books, inquiring of family, of receiving letters from his children and requesting photographs of them so he can get them "painted and framed".

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                                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  1863-01-04

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              From Camp Douglas in Chicago topics include going to the Baptist Church where he heard Elder Knapp a revivalist, sightseeing which included visiting grave to Stephen Douglas, seeing buffalo and oxen, requesting the return of the opened envelope in which money is missing, of eating well these days, of when the Regiment will be exchanged, gifts for officers including Col. Stannard, Col Andross, Major Stowell and the enclosure of "two small likenesses."

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1863-01-08

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include sitting on a court martial board for a Capt of the 65th Illinois for cowardice, reference to Union officer Maj. Gen William S. Rosecran's battle at Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Stones River Campaign, December 1862 against Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg) and the battle at Vicksburg (Dec 1862), having photographs taken, visiting acquaintances in Chicago, and a description of Camp Douglas, including a map.

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1863-01-11

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Barney still at Camp Douglas in Chicago and still hopes to be exchanged, writes of his loneliness and how the officers amuse themselves, the health of the Regiment, of light cases of small pox among the men, of hopes of being able to regain the money lost and inquires about family members.

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