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William Wirt Henry Correspondence

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William Wirt Henry was born on November 21, 1831, in Waterbury, Vermont, the eldest child of James Madison Henry (1809-1863) and Matilda Gale Henry (1811-1888). William Wirt Henry was educated in the schools of Waterbury and spent one term at People's Academy in Morrisville. William taught school for one winter (1849-50) in Wolcott, Vermont, and then caught "gold fever" and moved to California to seek his fortune. He returned to Vermont in 1857 and joined his father's druggist business, J. M. Henry & Sons. In 1861 he sold his interest in the business and enlisted as a first lieutenant in Co. D of the Second Vermont Volunteers. He resigned November 5, 1861, and then reenlisted as a major in the Tenth Vermont Infantry. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1862 and to colonel in June 1864. He resigned December 17, 1864, and was made brevet brigadier general on March 7, 1865. He was wounded in the battles of Cold Harbor and Cedar Creek.

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Time Period Covered: August 7, 1861 - November 13, 1863 

Parent Collections

Vermonters in the Civil War

Related Archival Collection(s)

William Wirt Henry Family Papers

Published:  March 22, 2011,  University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Center for Digital Initiatives

Rights:  Requests to reproduce this item should be sent to Vermont Historical Society Library, vhs-library@state.vt.us. For more information, see http://cdi.uvm.edu/about/rights. More information.


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Title:   Albert B. Jewett to William Wirt Henry

Creator:  Jewett, Albert B., 1829-1887

Date:  1863-02-02

Resource type:   correspondence

Letter discussing Jewett’s possible promotion to Brigadier General (as Jewett's name is on a list for promotions) and Jewett willing to help get a staff position for Gov. Dillingham's son if Jewett is promoted.

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    Title:   Charles C. Canning to William Wirt Henry

    Creator:  Canning, Charles C., b. 1828

    Date:  1862-05-26

    Resource type:   correspondence

    Topics include the defeat of General Banks (Battle of Winchester, May 25) , the promotion of Lt. Col. Stannard, and the request to William Henry to raise a company so that Charles Canning may become a captain. Canning mentions orders from McClellan to prepare for "a bloody battle," but major fighting doesn't ensue until May 31st (Battle of Seven Pines, May 31), when Confederates take advantage of Union positions on the south side of the Chickahominy River.

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      Title:   Charles C. Canning to William Wirt Henry

      Creator:  Canning, Charles C., b. 1828

      Date:  1862-07-18

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Topics include the movement of the regiment to Harrison's Landing, the extensive loss in the 5th Vermont Regiment (Battle of Savage's Station, June 29, 1862), the arrest of Captain Eaton, and a request for a few goods from home.

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        Title:   Charles C. Gregg to William Wirt Henry

        Creator:  Gregg, Charles C., 1832-1910

        Date:  1862-05-28

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include the expectation of a "big old fight" near Richmond (Battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks, ended June 1st, 1862), and the report of a fight led by "Porter and Stonman" (Fitz John Porter and George Stoneman, both Union officers) against 17,000 rebels (actual number: 4,500). This was the Battle of Hanover Court House, 18 miles north of Richmond, on May 27th, 1862. Mentions the appointment of Col. George J. Stannard to lead the Vt. 9th Regiment.

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          Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

          Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

          Date:  1861-08-07

          Resource type:   correspondence

          August 7, 1861 from Clermont, Virginia. Writes Vermont 3rd located at the Chain Bridge Georgetown Heights, picket duty, illness among the men, sudden death of soldiers from sore throat.

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            Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

            Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

            Date:  1861-08-16

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Writes of wishing to be sent food such as dried beef, cheese, pickles, maple sugar, crackers. Mentions Bush Hill, camping in rainy weather with everything they had being wet, brigade review by General Smith, discontent among the officers. In need of recruits.

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              Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

              Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

              Date:  1861-08-26

              Resource type:   correspondence

              August 26, 1861 from Great Falls Maryland. Writes of furloughs and discharges not being granted without good cause, illness among the men including measles, duty guarding the river, good fishing, having acquired a horse, quarters in an old hotel with creature comforts.

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                Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

                Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

                Date:  1861-08-28

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Writes of authority to enlist 40 men, Lt. Hoyt to go to Vermont to recruit instead of Charles Dillingham, need for good men, will try to discharge from the record those men who have died, were ordered to be in light marching order. May be to attack rebel camp across the river at Falls Church, some illness among the men.

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                  Title:   Charles Dillingham to William Wirt Henry

                  Creator:  Dillingham, Charles, b. 1837

                  Date:  1861-11-?

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Writes of Brigade drill under General Smith, picket duty, prospect of detachment from brigade to go south, much illness among the men including a case of small pox, upcoming promotion of Lt. Crossman, cold weather, upcoming grand review by General McClellan.

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                    Title:   Charles H. Joyce to William Wirt Henry

                    Creator:  Joyce, Charles H., 1830-1916

                    Date:  1862-08-13

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Topics include C.H. Joyce's hope of being put in charge of the 11th regiment and anticipation of the camp moving. This would be the evacuation of Harrison's Landing, where McClellan had kept his Army of the Potomac for several weeks. Joyce refers to "old W." (Wash. DC?) and "Gov. H.," Frederick Holbrook, influential governor of Vt., 1861-1863. Also: Battle of Savage's Station, June 29, 1862, where Joyce performed well.

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                      Title:   Edward Murphy to William Wirt Henry

                      Creator:  Murphy, Edward

                      Date:  1862-07-21

                      Resource type:   correspondence

                      Writing from camp at Westover Landing, Virginia topics include trying to convince William Henry to come join Company D in the 2nd Regiment, mentions officers resigning and hopes to take Richmond by the end of the summer.

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                        Title:   George J. Stannard to William Wirt Henry

                        Creator:  Stannard, George J., 1820-1886

                        Date:  1862-01-07

                        Resource type:   correspondence

                        Topics include inquiring after William Henry's health, the sickness in the regiment, and a brief description of drills and picket duty and makes mention of not being promoted, states Capt Dillingham to be promoted.

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                          Title:   Ira A. Marshall to William Wirt Henry

                          Creator:  Marshall, Ira A., d. 1893

                          Date:  1862-05-13

                          Resource type:   correspondence

                          Topics include recent battles in Yorktown and Williamsburg, which had significant casualties; the destruction of the C.S.S. Merrimack off the coast of Norfolk, Va., now under Union occupation. McClellan will likely send Vt. troops home once Richmond is taken. Ill soldier Tilton Sleeper mentioned again.

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                            Title:   Ira A. Marshall to William Wirt Henry

                            Creator:  Marshall, Ira A., d. 1893

                            Date:  1862-06-08

                            Resource type:   correspondence

                            Topics include camping at Harrison's Landing, Virginia on the James River, makes reference to regiments and companies losing men, the names of men wounded and their injuries in Company D, makes reference to a battle (maybe Battle of Seven Pines [Fair Oaks]??), several officers resigning, the high cost of food, and the slight sickness of Ira Marshall.

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                              Title:   John L. T. Jones to William Wirt Henry

                              Creator:  Jones, John L. T., d. 1883.

                              Date:  1863-02-06

                              Resource type:   correspondence

                              Invitation to Colonel Henry to a dance & a glass of apple toddy, made by a Union supporter, John L. T. Jones. He also requests the presence of Dr. Joesph Chase Rutherford.

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                                Title:   Justin Carter to William Wirt Henry

                                Creator:  Carter, Justin, d. 1871

                                Date:  1863-01-19

                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                List of amounts given by non-commissioned officers of Company B for a sabre for Lieutenant Colonel William Wirt Henry of the 10th Vermont Infantry Regiment including Foster, the drummer boy.

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                                  Title:   Moses W. Sawyer to William Wirt Henry

                                  Creator:  Sawyer, Moses W., 1831-1916

                                  Date:  1863-05-19

                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                  Receipts for the purchase of two horses.

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                                    Title:   Quincy F. Thurston to William Wirt Henry

                                    Creator:  Thurston, Quincy F., d. 1862

                                    Date:  1862-06-07

                                    Resource type:   correspondence

                                    Topics include an account of the battle near Richmond (maybe the Battle of Seven Pines [Fair Oaks]??), makes mention of marching, the evacuation of Yorktown, the battle of Williamsburgh, a stay at the White House and advance to the Chickahominy River.

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                                      Title:   William Bruidnell and Francis Finnegan to William Wirt Henry

                                      Creator:  Bruidnell, William, b. 1842; Finnegan

                                      Date:  1862-08-09

                                      Resource type:   correspondence

                                      Topics include a request for pay amounting to $116 and an update on the leaders of the Vermont Regiment.

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                                        Title:   William Bruidnell and Samuel Morey to William Wirt Henry

                                        Creator:  Bruidnell, William, b. 1842; Morey

                                        Date:  1862-07-19

                                        Resource type:   correspondence

                                        Topics include a description of the Battle of Mechanicsville (June 26-27, 1862), part of the Seven Days campaign near Richmond.

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                                          Title:   William Bruidnell to William Wirt Henry

                                          Creator:  Bruidnell, William, b. 1842

                                          Date:  1862-05-25

                                          Resource type:   correspondence

                                          Topics include the good health of everyone except Tilton Sleeper, the hope of taking Richmond from the rebels, and the good weather near Cool Harbor, Virginia.

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                                            Title:   William Wirt Henry to Gov. J. Gregory Smith

                                            Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                                            Date:  1864-05-20

                                            Resource type:   correspondence

                                            Strongly worded letter written to Governor Smith protesting his censuring of Henry for lack of discipline in the 10th Vermont, due to the complaints of Major Chandler over the promotion of Captain Frost. Henry writes that he believes the 10th Vermont is very disciplined and that the Governor’s action in not sending commissions has harmed that discipline. He also states that the 10th Vermont has been under fire continuously and has done it’s duty well. Reference to Col. Jewett, Capt Dillingham Henry writes this letter while lying in a rifle pit, 1,000 yards from the Confederate forces.

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                                              Title:   William Wirt Henry to James Edwin Henry

                                              Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                                              Date:  1863-09-11

                                              Resource type:   correspondence

                                              Quiet now, no action, just picket and drill. Also this letter to his brother, James Edwin Henry, discusses an advertisement for a patent medicine sold by his business in Vermont that is causing problems for their surgeon Dr. Willard A. Childe, and asking that the advertisement be removed. He also writes of a soldier named Justin (possibly Justin Carter), the difficulty he has had in keeping him from being cashiered and of praise from General Meade.

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                                                Title:   William Wirt Henry to James Edwin Henry

                                                Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                                                Date:  1864-08-08

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

                                                Henry writes that General Sheridan has taken command of the army, and he expects more fighting, though he thinks Sheridan will have to look “smart” since the army is so large that the Rebels can get out of its way. However, he feels it is large enough to take on both General Early and General Breckinridge combined. He also writes that the regiment moved to Halltown by train, which pleased the troops, since they were tired of marching. As well, he warns his wife that the regiment will probably be moving out of range of mail deliveries, but he wishes her to continue to write him often.

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                                                  Title:   William Wirt Henry to John Henry

                                                  Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                                                  Date:  1863-09-10

                                                  Resource type:   correspondence

                                                  Written in the field, letter discusses General Morris’ leave of absence, which would leave Major Henry in charge of the Brigade as ranking officer, as well as the possible quick return of Colonel Jewett when he finds out that he would be in command of the Brigade.

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