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John Lester Barstow Correspondence

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Collection Overview

John L. Barstow’s letters, most written to his wife Laura, describe camp life at Ship Island, New Orleans, and various locations in the Louisiana countryside, and include comments on the attitudes and conduct of white and black civilians, as well as the leadership of Generals Nathaniel P. Banks, Benjamin F. Butler, and William B. Franklin. Barstow served as brigadier general of Provisional Forces in St. Albans, Vermont, after he left the Eighth Vermont in June 1864. He was elected Governor of Vermont in 1882.

Time Period Covered: May 3, 1862 - October 25, 1863 

Parent Collections

Vermonters in the Civil War

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:   Alfred H. Keith to John Lester Barstow

Creator:  Keith, Alfred H.

Date:  1865-01-04

Resource type:   correspondence

Brief letter from Capt. Alfred H. Keith to Barstow regarding Keith being relieved from duties and hoping money sent has been received.

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    Title:   John Lester Barstow to ?

    Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

    Date:  1862-05-18

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Comfortable lodgings of the regiment in New Orleans, the cost of food items, and the ruined state of New Orleans when the Vermont Regiment arrived, interaction with the Negroes.

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      Title:   John Lester Barstow to Father

      Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

      Date:  1862-12-28

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Writes of fleeing of Rebels to Texas, the destruction and loss of property near New Orleans, his observations about the area where he is & the hardships of wartime he has experience, placement of the pickets, richness of the soil, high value of the sugar crop and Barstow’s belief that the war must not end until the Union is restored.

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        Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

        Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

        Date:  1862-05-03

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include an overview of the daily schedule in camp, firing on Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philips by General Butler, General Phelps, and about 10,000 men that lasted for three days, and orders for the rest of the regiment to head for New Orleans.

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          Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

          Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

          Date:  1862-05-11

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Being aboard the ship “Jamis Hovey” on the Mississippi River on the way to New Orleans, the difficulty of the journey from Ship Island to New Orleans, and the initial observations upon the arrival in New Orleans.

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            Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

            Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

            Date:  1862-11-23

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Written in the field he writes of idleness of the Regiment since its arrival on the banks of the Bayon and the help the Negroes are receiving from the government, the lack of coffee, poor quality flour, no salt, spoiled meat causing disease, exorbitant prices for food.

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              Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

              Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

              Date:  1862-12-14

              Resource type:   correspondence

              General Banks supersedes General Butler, the capture of one of the rebel officers, and the dishonorable discharge of Lieutenant Day.

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                Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                Date:  1863-04-22

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Writing laying on the ground from Opelousas La. topics include the regiment moving and having an exchange of fire with the rebels, at last receiving letters dated Feb 28th and Mar. 10th, he being a Captain must walk (not ride according to regulations), his feet now sore and blistered, the men who were wounded in this exchange, and the regiment's plan to go to the Red River to attack Port Hudson or Vicksburg, regrets the lack of writing paper and pen.

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                  Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                  Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                  Date:  1863-05-16

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include moving up the Red River, on the march can not catch the Rebels on horseback, dealing with snakes, joining forces with General Grant and his campaign in regard to Port Hudson or Vicksburg, inquiries about the draft in Shelburne, wishing to be with family, the beauty of flower gardens at the residences, plenty of corn planted but folks in need of other goods, the murder of a soldier by another soldier (later confined as a lunatic), a surgeon administering medicine only to discover is was poisoned resulting in the death of five soldiers.

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                    Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                    Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                    Date:  1863-10-25

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Two letters dated Oct 25 and Oct 27 with topics including marching, waiting, more marching, more waiting, lack of food due to road conditions, unable to forage for food, hot days, cold nights, the importance of picket duty, the unpopularity of General William B. Franklin, and the army returning to New Iberia, fear that mail may be lost due to capture of wagons by Rebels and fear to send any money by mail.

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                      Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                      Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                      Date:  1864-01-21

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Receipt of ambrotype (photograph) of his son, Freddie, sending photos of himself home, request for photograph of Laura & Freddie, sending money, anticipation for the war's end.

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                        Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                        Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                        Date:  1864-01-10

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Detailed description of horrid wet, cold & muddy camp conditions in Louisiana, damage to military equipment, loss of horses & mules from marching in deep mud, African American man servants (aids) risking life and limb to cross river to aid soldiers crossing, pillaging of Southern sympathizer's property and livestock for use by the Union soldiers, papers accusing Gen. William B. Franklin of being a coward and half-traitor, crossing the Potomac to resupply.

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                          Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                          Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                          Date:  1864-05-09

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include traveling by railroad to report to Col. Hannibal Day for further orders, disruption of the rails, preparing to lead forces unsupervised by higher command, false lead on expected fight with two enemy cavalry, village of 3000 set afire by small rebel force, great confusion, confidence in Gen. Grant, concern for his health & safe return if not given time to rest.

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                            Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                            Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                            Date:  1864-02-04

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Writes of warming of days but continued nightly chills and fever, illness of Capt. George N. Carpenter, reenlisting of many of the men but they being kept in suspense over whether or not their re-enlistments are accepted due to possible replacement soldiers coming in, vents about poor living conditions affecting his general health. Letter ends mid sentence.

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                              Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                              Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                              Date:  1864-02-21

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include much activity in camp, the reenlisting of 361 men, news from Washington about enlistment dates, reorganizing of divisions 7 brigades, Col. Stephen Thomas in command of regiment but no longer in command of brigade, the death of two in New Orleans from illness, reference to Gen. Nathaniel Prentiss Banks.

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                                Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                                Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                                Date:  1864-04-12

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include the battle of Mansfield (April 8, Red River Expedition) fought near Natchitoches, La. and Barstow’s determination to keep his troops prepared for battle, keeping his camp clean, the touching goodbyes of parting regiments.

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                                  Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                                  Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                                  Date:  1864-05-19

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Topics include increasing numbers of sickly soldiers in camp, conditions of the hospital seized by Barstow for the injured, many wounded also homesick, projections for future marching orders.

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                                    Title:   John Lester Barstow to Laura

                                    Creator:  Barstow, John Lester, 1832-1913

                                    Date:  1863-03-26

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include Barstow's sickness, of him sent to New Orleans for rest but ordered back to his regiment as Heitzel's Brigade was to retreat, a very hard rain that flooded the camp, Admiral David Farragut at the siege of Port Hudson (on March 14), the retreat of General Banks and his army to Baton Rouge, his feelings other southern cities will soon fall and he will be going home, burning of the steamer, BioBio and perhaps the burning and loss of the mail with it and requests for photographs.

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