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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 [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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                                    Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                    Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                    Date:  1863-10-03

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    In camp near Culpeper, Virginia topics include an explanation of a drawing or sketch of views from camp beginning with the furthest object the Blue Ridge Mountains, the rolling plain, the shelter tents used in the field, a cherry tree in front of his tent and a reference to the thousands of troops camped in the area.

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                                      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                      Date:  1863-10-05

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include a reference to Rutherford’s birthday earlier in the month, reflections on his children, Joseph, Jacob & Kittie & their individual personalities & attention needed, needing flannel shirts, grateful knitted socks are being made for him, and acknowledging money sent finally arriving home.

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                                        Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                        Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                        Date:  1863-10-09

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the railroad (Iron horse) in Rutherford’s hometown (Newport, Vt.?), cautioning keeping the children away from the railroad cars, daughter Helen and a Mrs. Bachelder are sick, pleasantly surprised over the low cost of the water well dug at home, the importance of receiving letters from home often, of a grand review of the troops and the prospect of a fight as the Confederate officer J.E.B. Stuart is to the rear & a part of the division has been sent to stop his advance.

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                                          Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                          Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                          Date:  1863-10-11

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Writing a very brief letter from in the field near the Confederate Army topics include the anticipation of an attack, the high morale of the troops even in the face of danger and the proximity to the enemy.

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                                            Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                            Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                            Date:  1863-10-13

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            In the field writing on a drum in the hot sun, topics include having completed a long march to his position near Washington, the proximity to the enemy, the expectation of a battle, the men prepared and eager seemingly having become desensitized to danger and death as they chat with one another and even sleep.

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                                              Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                              Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                              Date:  1863-10-22

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              From Catlett's Station, Virginia on the Orange & Alexandria Rail Road, Virginia topics include a description of a battle with Stuart's men near the Bull Run location in which the Union was victorious, many killed, wounded, artillery captured, wrote the newspapers were mistaken as to the outcome of the battle, his cost of living, high cost of food, glad for the comfort of Rutherford’s family at home, and marching to continue.

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                                                Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                                Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                                Date:  1863-10-31

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                From mud soaked camp near Warrenton Junction topics include repairing a railroad, dismay at the laying waste such beautiful countryside, his strong views on slavery, on the white men who partake in slavery, on the Southern values of trying to keep property in the family resulting in intermarriage, the results of that and his philosophy of why the war is so hard to put down due to the Southerners' mind set and the basis of what the Union is fighting for.

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                                                  Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

                                                  Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

                                                  Date:  1863-11-03

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include references to folks at home and their improved health, of not minding having his letters read to others, brief reference to a battle at Briston Station (Manassas plains), Dr. Childe's sister has a book for Rutherford's daughter Helen, a brief description of a battle and how the wounded men were treated including Rutherford's decisions to not amputate limbs and the recovered heath of those soldiers who were spared the surgery.

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