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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:  1862-09-22

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Writing from Camp Parole topics include a hard march to the camp near Annapolis, being paroled and possibly being sent out West to fight the Indians or sent to home state and a detailed description of an engagement at Harpers Ferry (West Virginia) that included heavy fire, skirmishing Rebels, Union soldiers abandoning their posts, troops falling back, white flag raised by the Union soldiers, men discarding their revolvers and swords, mingling of the Confederates with the Union men as comrades in arms.

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                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                          Date:  1862-09-27

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          While in transport Barney writes of heading for Chicago along with others as prisoners, states he had a good breakfast that included much relished butter, speculates they are being moved West as it is cheaper than keeping them East, thinks they will not be exchanged any time soon, feels humiliated to be sold but proud of having done his duty. States the arrest of all the officers in the brigade except Colonel Stannard who has taken command. Mentions photographs he is sending home.

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                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                            Date:  1862-10-01

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Writing from Chicago topics include the journey to an area 2 miles from Chicago, a description of the living quarters that include a good dinner, fixing up the sheds they are living in which are on the fairgrounds (the site of a Sanitary Fair to benefit soldier relief funds, Oct. 27, 1863), the morale of the men, food of pork, bread, beef, talk of being relocated to Minnesota, and the disparate need for money.

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                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                              Date:  1862-10-05

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Topics include the conditions at Camp Tyler, the observation of the Sabbath not to his liking as the duty of dispensing clothing to the men, etc. took up much of it, recounts the past 3 weeks, of seeing Vermont marble on the floors of some buildings on his visit to the city of Chicago, the Chicago marble business using Vermont marble and of there being a lot of Vermonters in the area.

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                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                Date:  [1862]-10-12

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                Topics include receiving $10 from his father, the food supplies at camp, the health of the regiment which includes many men with jaundice, morale of the men, mentions telling his wife army life would be better than he knew it would be in order for her to feel better about letting him be in the military, reporting 2 of his men as deserters to Head Quarters, the false reports written in the papers and mentions prisoner of war camp Camp Douglas.

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                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                  Creator:  Whitmore, Orange S., 1836-1908

                                  Date:  1862-10-23

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  A letter to Maria Barney telling her of Valentine Barney's illness (Bilious Fever) written by 1st Sgt. Whitmore. He writes of the probability the regiment will not be paid soon thus Barney asking for $25 be sent, that Barney is receiving the best medical care by a widow (Mrs. Snow) in a private home and a Corporal has been assigned to stay with him.

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                                    Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                    Creator:  Whitmore, Orange S., 1836-1908

                                    Date:  1862-10-25

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Brief letter from 1st Sgt. Whitmore to Barney's wife on the improvement of Barney’s health with Bilious fever (a name used that may refer to a number of illnesses that include jaundice) and the excellent care he is receiving from widow, Mrs. Snow in her private home.

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                                      Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                      Creator:  Whitmore, Orange S., 1836-1908

                                      Date:  1862-10-29

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Whitmore writes to Maria Barney of the improvement of Barney’s health, of Barney advising Maria to keep the cow and the possibility of returning to Vermont in the near future.

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                                        Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                        Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                        Date:  [1862]-10-30

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include the improvement of Barney’s health, the care he is receiving, and a description of the bilious fever with which he was afflicted (i.e. jaundice).

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                                          Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                          Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                          Date:  1862-11-03

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the continued improvement of Barney’s health from jaundice though his appetite is low and his skin itches, of foods he regularly eats, the sickness of Sergeant Whitmore with typhoid fever, and the deaths in the regiment including Chas Crook.

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                                            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                            Date:  1862-11-05

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Topics include the continued improvement of Barney’s health, his taking of jaundice bitters as treatment, his paying Mrs. Snow $10 for his and his attendant's room and board in her home and of sending his attendant back to camp.

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                                              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                              Date:  1862-11-07

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Topics include the continued improvement of Barney’s health, having his attendant return to camp, his thinking of applying for a furlough to return home when he feels stronger, his outrage at the government for the continued poor living conditions for the men at camp in the sheds, his asking for more money from home and the lack of military pay the soldiers have received.

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                                                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                Date:  1862-11-09

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Topics include the continued improvement of Barney’s health from jaundice though his legs tire quickly, the need for money from home, thoughts of a furlough and the sickness and deaths in the regiment.

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                                                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                                                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                                                  Date:  1862-11-11

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Topics include the weather in Chicago, the desire to return home, and the improvement in Barney’s health.

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