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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:  1862-12-14

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        From Camp Douglas topics include Barney receiving military pay (back from Nov 1 of $580), how Maria is to distribute it to pay off money owed by Barney, reaffirms his devotion to Maria, his ability to not be tempted to stray and his delight in receiving letters from his young children Carrie and Fred (even if not quite intelligible).

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                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                          Date:  1862-12-16

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          From Camp Douglas topics include sending military pay of $480 home, request for needed items from home including boots, fur collar, pillow. etc., having a pleasant evening dinner and singing at Mrs. Snow's and arranging to have his photograph taken.

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                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                            Date:  1862-12-18

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            From Camp Douglas topics include an update on the state of the regiment including men deserting, sick, discharged or joining the regular army, of sending photographs of Bushnell, Cleveland and of himself home to Maria, of Lt Sherman in camp, the loss of 13,000 Union men from Burnside’s army in recent battles, of thousands of paroled prisoners in Annapolis thus Barney needing to stay at camp through the holidays.

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                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                              Date:  1862-12-21

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              From Camp Douglas topics include Barney having had 48 small photographs of himself made, of sending photographs home to his family, of several of his men, of trying to get a furlough for one of them, of expecting to stay where he is for a while longer, fixing up his living quarters, Colonel Andrus to arrive in camp to replace Stannard who may go home to recover his health, newspapers reporting Reg. to be sent back East, and the invitation to spend Christmas at Mrs. Snow’s.

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                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                Date:  1862-12-24

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                From Camp Douglas on Christmas Eve Day topics include the misplacement of $120 and trying to track it down, of sending photographs of Halbert and Jewett, instructions to Maria to help solve missing money.

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                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                  Date:  1862-12-26

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  From Camp Douglas the day after Christmas topics include the disappearance of other soldiers’ military pay as well his own from an earlier date, the hope to track the money down, the receiving of gifts from the men of the company out of love and respect for Barney as their officer, the damaging of his winter coat beyond repair, a description of Christmas at Mrs. Snow’s including giving his photograph to Sarah.

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                                    Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                    Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                    Date:  1862-12-29

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include an affidavit to try and help find the missing money, Barney having to be in court for a court martial trial, checking on the sick in the hospital, anticipation of getting a box from home and the plan to be mustered tomorrow for pay to get in 2 or 3 weeks.

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                                      Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                      Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                      Date:  1863-02-22

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      His medicinal use of alcohol, the bitter weather, a practical joke he played on Lieutenant Erastus W. Jewett and the uses of humor, singing (Brave Boys are they) and other entertainments, his conversation with a Rebel prisoner about allegiance to the U.S., his worries about the news of small pox back home in Swanton.

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                                        Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  1863-02-18

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include being on guard duty, of the many court martial cases to be tried, his passion for collecting photographs of all the officers in the Regiment for his album, the resignation of officers, sending Meigs to pursue a deserter with no luck in arresting him, of hearing about a military draft in Vermont & the need for men to serve

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                                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                          Date:  1863-03-02

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include attending a spiritualist lecture by Cora L. V. Hatch, of the importance of getting letters from Maria, his distress at receiving a letter from his wife in which she appears to doubt his love for her, and the shooting of a rebel prisoner by a member of the 65th.

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                                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1863-02-25

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include the execution of many deserters via orders of Gen Hooker, small pox at Camp Douglas with Barney taking the vaccine against the disease, celebrating George Washington’s birthday, rebels taking the oath of allegiance, the passage of the draft bill with an expectation that many will leave for Canada.

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                                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  1863-02-05

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include Thomas Cunliffe reported as a deserter, dental work done, $80 draft sent to Maria, getting help for her during the winter including getting milking done by Alfred or Has, surprised by the number of babies being born in Swanton during war time, and the antics of a Rebel prisoner.

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1863-01-31

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Written on Sherman House stationery topics include getting reimbursed for $120 stolen from an Express package, the condition of the more Rebel prisoners arriving, camp now having 4000 Confederate prisoners, attending a temperance lecture given by John B. Gough, and staying at the Sherman House, whose marble floor in the lobby was manufactured by Barney’s father.

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1863-02-15

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include his desire to return home to play with his children, his worry about hearing that the family home was nearly lost in a fire, and how visiting with acquaintances helps him keep from being homesick.

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