A War of the People: Vermont Civil War Letters

Overview

The Civil War left no Vermonters untouched, and few families free from pain. More than 140 letters--carefully selected from some 9000 in several archives--convey in personal terms the combat experience of Vermonters throughout the war. Vermont raised seventeen infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, three batteries of light artillery, and three companies of sharp-shooters--nearly 35,000 soldiers in all. As a result of this impressive commitment, Vermont suffered one of the ...
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Overview

The Civil War left no Vermonters untouched, and few families free from pain. More than 140 letters--carefully selected from some 9000 in several archives--convey in personal terms the combat experience of Vermonters throughout the war. Vermont raised seventeen infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, three batteries of light artillery, and three companies of sharp-shooters--nearly 35,000 soldiers in all. As a result of this impressive commitment, Vermont suffered one of the highest rates of military deaths of any Union state.

A War of the People covers the war chronologically, with editor Jeffrey D. Marshall providing running commentary on both the war overall and Vermonters' experiences. Supplemented with maps and photographs, it includes many voices--from privates to colonels, mothers, wives, and best friends, young and old--writing about battles, camp life, family matters, and much more. An African-American soldier from Hinesburg, a French-Canadian soldier who enlisted in Milton, and dozens of others record their experiences in unforgettable words. Marshall's battlefront/homefront choice of letters provides a deeper understanding of the social and political dimensions that, although secondary to military concerns, were an intergral part of Vermont's war years.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
At a time when publishers lists contain an ever-growing number of collections of Civil War correspondence, it pays for both editors and librarians to be selective. Such is the case with this fine collection of the letters of Vermonters, mostly soldiers, who shared their experiences with others. Marshall, an archivist and curator of manuscripts at the University of Vermont, has culled these letters from a much larger assortment of correspondence penned by soldiers and civilians, men and women, whites and African Americans. Most of the letters concentrate on the war in the East, including several accounts of the key role played by Vermonters in checking Picketts Charge at Gettysburg. Nearly all offer insight into a people at war, from military events, generals, and the soldiers life at the front to politics and family at home, reflecting attitudes toward race, white Southerners, and the experience of combat itself. For larger public libraries.Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874519228
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 5/1/1999
  • Pages: 377
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFFREY D. MARSHALL is University Archivist and Curator of Manuscripts at the University of Vermont.
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Read an Excerpt

'This war is a war of the people,' William Young Ripley wrote to his son William after the humiliating Union defeat at Bull Run in July 1861. 'The men at Washington - will find that they are only agents in the matter,' he warned. A prominent citizen of Rutland, Vermont, and a member of his state's emerging class of industrial leaders, Ripley represented a swelling tide of dissatisfaction with the military and political leadership in Washington. Before the war ended four years later, Ripley would exchange hundreds of letters with his three sons in the army, sharing home-front reactions to war news and receiving frank assessments of the conflict's progress from the front. The story of this 'war of the people,' fought by citizen-soldiers and supported by the extraordinary sacrifices of citizens at home, unfolds in countless letters written from the battle front and the home front. -- From the Introduction
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Foreword xi
Preface xiii
Abbreviations xvii
Introduction 1
1. Spring 1861 16
2. Summer 1861 34
3. Autumn 1861 47
4. Winter 1862 57
5. Spring 1862 70
6. Summer 1862 85
7. Autumn 1862 109
8. Winter 1863 128
9. Spring 1863 144
10. Summer 1863 161
11. Autumn 1863 183
12. Winter 1864 201
13. Spring 1864 220
14. Summer 1864 241
15. Autumn 1864 258
16. Winter 1865 282
17. Spring 1865 293
Epilogue 314
Appendix Muster Roll 317
Notes 329
Works Cited 341
Index 349
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