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Joseph Chase Rutherford Correspondence

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An 1849 graduate of Woodstock Medical College, Joseph Chase Rutherford practiced medicine in Blackstone, Massachussetts and Orleans County, Vermont. He was an examining surgeon of recruits early in the war, and he also invented a method of invisible writing that was used by the federal government during the war. Rutherford was commissioned from Newport on August 8th, 1862 and made an assistant surgeon of the 10th Vermont. He was promoted to surgeon of the 17th Vermont on March 6th, 1865. While operating on a soldier after the battle of Orange Grove, he developed an infection in his thumb that partially disabled him for the rest of his life. He returned home to his practice in Newport after the war.

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Time Period Covered: August 27, 1862 - December 25, 1863 

Parent Collections

Vermonters in the Civil War

Related Archival Collection(s)

Dr. Joseph Rutherford Papers

Published:  May 12, 2011,  University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Center for Digital Initiatives

Rights:  Requests to reproduce this item should be sent to the UVM Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives at cdi@uvm.edu. For more information, see http://cdi.uvm.edu/about/rights. More information.


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Title:   Joseph Rutherford to Daughter

Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

Date:  1862-11-23

Resource type:   correspondence

Rutherford writes from his Maryland camp to his daughter, Helen, of military life, about the fact that there is no day of worship in the military, food preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, description of the dress parade, Typhoid fever in the camp, and the proper care that the Vermont regiment is receiving from their surgeons.

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    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to Jacob [Rutherford]

    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

    Date:  1862-09-?

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Dr. Rutherford writes to his young son, Jacob, about the military camp the Dr. is in. He writes of how the camp is much like a village with rows of white tents, how his tent is furnished, of a small black dog he has with him and of how much he likes his horse. He gives his opinion of the soldiers; many treat him well and some of the men he dislikes because they do not keep themselves clean.

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      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to Son

      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

      Date:  1863-05-26

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include J.C. Rutherford writing to his sick son, reference to the boy's younger brother, Jacob ; sending flower buds to his sister Helen and a gold cord to the sick boy as trim for his cap.

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        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

        Date:  1863-07-07

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Writing two letters dated July 7th and 8th from South Mountain Pass, Maryland topics include the deplorable state of Rebel prisoners captured, the kindness of the Vermont Regiment towards the prisoners by giving the Confederates their rations, prisoners marching to Washington, D. C., his reflections on the battle at South Mountain that took place September 1862, Union destruction of Rebel pontoon bridges, one time the troops rejoice at the heavy rain as it keeps the river high and having potatoes and fresh berries to eat.

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          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

          Date:  1863-07-13

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Writing in a wheat field near Williams Port, MD topics include a description of where the regiment is in Maryland, rain, mud, heavy cannon drawn by horses and the difficulty of transporting weaponry, the men being ready for battle

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            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

            Date:  1863-07-19

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Writing from in the field up in the mountains near Snickers Gap, Virginia topics include marching to catch Gen. Robert E. Lee, pillage of livestock for food by some of the soldiers that include chickens and hogs from nearby farms as well as having fresh blackberries, sleeping on the wet ground, spending time looking at photographs of loved ones and poking fun at themselves in harsh living conditions.

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              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

              Date:  1863-07-27

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Writing a very brief letter from Warrenton, Virginia topics include the continuous marching, lack of food, the hardships the men are currently facing met with cheerfulness, moving on to Culpeper, then to Gordonsville and hopefully on to Richmond.

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                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                Date:  1863-07-29

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Writing in the field near Warrenton, Virginia topics include the importance of receiving letters from home, morale kept up by sharing bits of news from home with each other in spite of the hardships in camp, reference to several commanding officers including French, Elliot, Morris, General George Meade, his hearsay knowledge of the drunkenness of Gen. Joseph Hooker, of receiving a home newspaper with one of his letters printed in it.

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                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                  Date:  1863-08-02

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Writing in the field in camp near Rappahannock Station, Warrenton and the Rappahannock River topics include thinking of his family, soldiers dealing with body lice and the hardships of camp life.

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                    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                    Date:  1863-08-07

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Writing in the field near White Sulphur Springs, Virginia topics include military pay received, sending $200 home, little going on, waiting for conscripts, diarrhea among the regiment, the desolation of the countryside, the commanders and the identifying symbols, badges, insignia for each regiment.

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                      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                      Date:  1863-08-08

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Writing in the field near White Sulphur Springs, Virginia topics include the one year anniversary of joining the army, reflections on life, war and family, Col. Jewett and Capt Frost recruiting the drafted men, no food in the wasted countryside, and men endure their hardships.

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                        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                        Date:  1863-08-16

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        From White Sulphur Spring, VA topics include continued conflict with military authorities, medical department, Dr. Childe returning to duty relieving him of a lot of work, pursuing ways to relieve the shortage of medicines, photos of his children, blacks scavenging salt, philosophical reflections and opinions of the country being laid waste, people's lives suffering as a result of the Civil War.

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                          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                          Date:  1863-08-20

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Rutherford writes of his low opinion of Southerns, of their ignorance, their misguided values of who can own the most slaves and land, their intermarrying, of his applying discipline to those he feels deserve it in order to preserve order in his hospital, praise for his horse, Lady Lightfoot, who is still with him and his acquisition of another horse and mule.

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                            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                            Date:  1863-08-24

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            From in the field topics include Rutherford's friends at home worrying about him, the lack of opportunity for promotion in the regiment at this time, the position of "Salter" mentioned (procurer of salt, a maker of and dealer in salt, a drysalter?), and the method for treating typhoid fever, diarrhea among the sick men, looking on the bright side dealing with adversities of camp life.

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                              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                              Date:  1863-08-25

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Three letters included here. Rutherford tells his wife about the raising of two new Vermont Regiments, his anxious feelings and desire for the possibility of a promotion to lead a Regiment, Dr. Willard Augustus Childe's letter and a letter from Lieut. Col. William Writ Henry to Vermont Governor Frederick Holbrook. Both letters recommending Rutherford for promotion.

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                                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                Date:  1863-08-27

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Writing from camp in the field near Sulphur Springs, Virginia topics include reference to postal service, the sickness of a couple of men, the good health of Rutherford in spite of the lack of food, his encounter with a swarm of wild bees, not suffering from his rheumatism as in the past, reference to lice as grey backs and the hope that he will receive the promotion.

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                                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                  Date:  1863-09-10

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include his disputing the severity of disease in camp in the 10th Regiment, how disease claims more lives than bullets, reference to a fight at Boonsborough, the death of George Chase from illness, reference to a Mr. Joseph Calhoun and "Young Spafford" and a request for postage stamps as they are difficult to get.

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                                    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                    Date:  1863-09-14

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include Rutherford trying to reassure and relieve his wife's fears for the welfare of Vermont troops, reference to the 10th Regiment as the "lucky 10th", his good health, opinions on the war, his willingness to suffer hardships for the benefit of having a good home in the future, his daughter Helen and son Jacob's welfare, a small fight that occurred in the area near camp, orders given to be ready to move at a moment's notice, expecting military pay, needing to buy new clothes, will send some money home, request for local newspaper, Newport News.

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                                      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                      Date:  1863-09-15

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      A brief letter with Rutherford declining to give his consent for his daughter, Helen, to participate in hop picking; an activity where a mass of (usually lower class of) people gather to pick hops from the vines.

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                                        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                        Date:  1863-09-18

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the regiment moving to Culpeper, Virginia on high ground along the Blue Ridge, skirmishing nearby, going with Dr. Childe and Col. Henry to see deserters shot but they were not shot, no military pay because the regiment moved, glad daughter Helen taking an interest in domestic duties, sadness over the desolate condition of the countryside and George moving to Washington permanently.

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                                          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                          Date:  1863-09-20

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include thankful for getting postage stamps from home, gives treatment for diphtheria, remarks regarding the importance of letter writing, his rail against his wife's relatives for indignities he has suffered from them, well digging at home, reference to "Copperheads," his reaction and outrage to a vote related to the war taken at a town meeting as reported in a home newspaper (Newport News?), his urging to have the vote reversed, his permission to have part of his opinion published in the newspaper if seen fit and a description of the line of battle.

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                                            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                            Date:  1863-09-23

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include prepared to move out with 8 days rations but does not know to where, may be sent to Washington with the sick, letters to Rutherford's children that include Jacob, Kittie, Maria and Jovis.

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                                              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                              Date:  1863-09-27

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include receiving postage stamp requested, criticism of a doctor named Patch for his incompetence, the expectation of a big battle but not having it yet, a social visit with Captain Bartlett, his concern for the large number of sick men in the other regiments stationed next to his while his regiment is healthier and of writing a report regarding this concern to the Surgeon in Chief of the Army.

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                                                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                                Date:  1863-09-28

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include reflections upon the beauty of the Blue Ridge countryside, the line of defense maintained, surgeons going to a sheltered area away from gunfire during a battle, preparing a place to treat the wounded, a reference to new born babies, his opinion on another couple's marriage issues, his sons Jovis and Jacob and the hope that the war will end so Rutherford can return to his family.

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                                                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                                  Date:  1863-10-01

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include reflections, his 45th birthday today, a reference to their first born son & if he was living how he would have liked to have the son with him, looking at photographs of his wife & of opening a letter with a lock of hair in it, Col. Jewett having talked with Gov. Holbrook about Rutherford & him being worthy of a promotion, and his marked opinion of not wanting a woman as a camp follower as a laundress or as a seamstress as Mrs. Fields is wishing to go with the army.

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