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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:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

Date:  1861-12-25

Resource type:   correspondence

Writes of pleasant, comfortable winter quarters with 16 men to a tent and government supplied stoves ; tells of what food is available and what he had to eat while on picket duty ; very basic food for Thanksgiving ; no usual drill schedule due to it being Christmas Day ; mentions Charley and Lucy ; again reflects on if he lives to return home.

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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:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

      Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

      Date:  1864-01-28

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Brief letter from Heaton letting his mother know his health is good, the good weather, and the expectation to head to Washington soon.

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        Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

        Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

        Date:  1864-04-06

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include Heaton letting his mother know his health is good, the bad weather, the “vile” women, the death of Heman Belden who was shot accidentally & survived only 3 or 4 days, reference to book "Miss Martha Brownlow : the heroine of Tennessee" by William D. Reynolds.

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          Title:   Solomon G. Heaton to Mother

          Creator:  Heaton, Solomon G.

          Date:  1864-05-12

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Writes of battle casualties that include Elbrige, George, Emery, and Captain Buck being wounded, the death of Git Porter, he working in a military hospital in Fredericksburg as a Cook and the expected fall of Richmond.

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            Title:   Theodore Barton to Melissa Barton

            Creator:  Barton, Theodore, 1842-1926

            Date:  1863-01-25

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Theodore Lyman writes of seeing his brother Lyman, Company K, 8th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, who is camped only two miles away. He also writes of the attempt by General Burnside to cross the Rappahannock and how the Confederate soldiers jeered and set up a sign saying “Burnside stuck in the mud.”

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              Title:   Theodore Barton to Melissa Barton

              Creator:  Barton, Theodore, 1842-1926

              Date:  1863-02-25

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Theodore Barton writes that there is a foot of snow but it is melting fast. He also writes of his pleasure at the news of the draft, as he would be happy to see some of those who stayed behind and to give them the same encouragement they gave to him about how easy it would be to “whip” the South. He also mentions that there is not much drinking of alcohol going on.

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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:   Unidentified telegraph

                      Date:  1861-04-26

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Telegram from Woodstock, Vt regarding a Dr. Wm. McCollon (?) being a surgeon's mate and that the recommended Dr. is entirely competent.

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                        Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                        Date:  1861-05-08

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writes from Rutland on topics including the plan to start for Fort Monroe, Virginia, sends his love to his children, that he will make arrangements for Maria to stay with Uncle David, that all the men are well.

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                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                          Date:  1861-05-19

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include the regiment occupying the large Hygeia Hotel located outside the Fort Monroe on Old Point Comfort, the rules and costs of the hotel, Rebels firing on a steamer, 18 or 20 of the enemy killed, mentions vessels occupied by secessionists being captured and General Butler coming with either eight or ten thousand men to form an army.

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                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                            Date:  1861-05-24

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Topics include the journey from Fort Monroe, Virginia to Hampton, the Secessionists setting fire to a bridge that lead to the village, the Colonel being asked to not molest, assault or otherwise interfere with the citizens of Hampton, mentions Sewells Point where the enemy had built a battery, reference to the state election about secession from the union, speaks of his love for his family.

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                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                              Date:  1861-05-26

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the arrival of the Troy Regiment and the New York Zouaves, runaway slaves, a false alarm set off by the Troy Regiment, Mass 4th Regiment being arrested for pillage and plundering, requests for postage stamps and photographs of his family

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                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                Date:  [1861]-06-03

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Barney writes from Newport News, Virginia on the construction of a trench and accounts of alarms from the picket guard including a mule causing one of the alarms. Writes of the 2500 men, their disappointment at not being able to fire upon the Secessionists, fears the box from Swanton will not arrive at all, of the presence of 25 or 30 slaves, of horses, mules, dogs being brought in to camp, requests postage stamps and envelopes.

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                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                  Date:  [1861]-06-09

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Barney writes of camp equipment inspection, Sunday services held by Chaplain Stone, of being one of the singers during the service singing "Sweet Home", of receiving letters from home, of there being 4000 men, two men with the measles, of the arrival of the New York 4th Regiment and Hawkins Zouaves, of camp duties.

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                                    Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                    Date:  [1861]-06-11

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Writes from Newport News, Va. on a battle between General Butler's men and a camp of secessionists at Bethel, battle casualties due to confusion among the soldiers and friendly fire, of missing men, thanks Maria for the postage stamps.

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                                      Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                      Date:  1861-06-16

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      June 16, 1861. Barney writes from Newport News, Virginia an account of the Battle of Big Bethel including battle casualties, men sent out to look for cattle, illness among the men, soldiers tired to camp life, the arrival of food sent from home some of which was in good condition such as cheese, dried apples and maple sugar with some not.

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                                        Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  1861-06-19

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include an account of a day of camp life when the regiment is "not on labor", the receipt of a box from home with envelopes, postage stamps, Sunday School singing books, of the family.

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                                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                          Date:  1861-06-23

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include an account of what was seen during a scouting expedition, of orders to bring back lumber, of the men coming upon deserted homes still completely furnished, of the men ordered not to disturb anything (which some did anyway), of his observation and opinion of the negro slaves encountered.

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                                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1861-06-30

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Writes from Newport, Va. of his improving health after a bout of illness, of about 6000 Rebels in the area which the company is out scouting, the capture of two prisoners from a Regiment of Zouaves from Louisiana who voluntarily surrendered as they thought their company had moved out without them, of Barney's weight loss, death of a man from the Middlebury Co. and his funeral.

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                                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  [1861]-07-04

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Writes from Newport News, Va of an account of the 4th of July celebrations among the troops, of the burning of the Steamer Cataline that was the company's mail boat, hopes of Congress being able to settle the war, his opinion of the war and of his improved health.

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1861-07-07

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Writes of his uncertainty of when he will head home, of the men being anxious to be out of the army and away from camp life, a visit from Sect. Cameron, of the family

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  [1861]-07-14

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include the dates in which Valentine G. Barney will head home, the arrival of a telegraph wire from Newport News to the fort which will help the officers communicate quickly, the meeting of scouting party with Secessionists, the death of at least one of them, of 10 Union soldiers being taken prisoners and the news that the Fort is ready for use.

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