Hartland in the Civil War – Part 3

                                                                    Installment 3

Camp Life in Virginia for the “Nine Months Men”

The last HHS newsletter described the formation of the 2nd Vermont Infantry Brigade in response to President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more volunteers.  About four dozen Hartland men responded by joining the 12th or 16th infantry regiments as “Nine Months Men.”  By the fall of 1862 these men were in camps in Virginia.  I mentioned Camp Vermont as a main camp and while the five regiments of the 2nd Vermont Brigade were all in the same general area south and west of Washington, they occupied several camps along the outer defense line of Washington.

This article will describe in more detail what life in the camps was like for the men who spent most of their service there.  This is possible because HHS has a collection of 60 rather lengthy letters written by Pvt. James H. Bowers to his wife Maroa.  Pvt. Bowers was 23 when he enlisted from West Windsor and was assigned to Co. A, 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment.    James was in the army from 10/4/1862 to 7/14/1863.     Several Hartland men were in that 101-soldier company, including William Allen, Oscar Davis, Reuben Lamphear, James Nash, James Rogers, George Spear, and Clinton Willard.

Family records show he and Maroa had been married a year and a half when he enlisted.  They had their first child in 1864 and a son, Albert, was born in 1869.  Maroa died young, and James married twice more.  He died in 1909.  Albert moved to Hartland and Albert’s son Jimmy, grandson Eric, and great grandson Scott all live near the Bowers farm, now known as the Flower Farm.

The letters were organized and typed by James’s granddaughter, Rena Jenne Houghton in 1968.

Les Motschman

James Henry Bowers


October 11th, 1862 (The first letter from Washington includes a pencil sketch of the Capitol Building at the top of the page, below James writes   I have been in the United States Capitol.

[Describing the journey from Camp Lincoln in Brattleboro to Washington]:

Marched 3 miles to where we took the cars.  Tuesday at 9 o’clock [p.m.] arrived in New Haven at daylight, took a steamboat to New Jersey, then took the cars through Trenton, the capital of New Jersey.  Took supper at 8 o’clock in Philadelphia, arrived in Baltimore at 6 o’clock [a.m.] got breakfast at 10 o’clock, took the cars for Washington at 2 o’clock and arrived there 9 o’clock [p.m.] Thursday.  The boys stood the journey first rate.  If I live to come home, I will tell you all about it.  Have you received my bounty?

October 23rd , 1862 (Camp Casey, Capitol Hill)

I am well this morning.  O, how I wish I could step in and take breakfast with you.  It is quite cold, we have warm days and cold nights.  Horrace Houghton died yesterday.  Shedd is here, he is going to have his body embalmed, and carry it home.

October 29th, 1862 (Camp Casey, Capitol Hill)

Mr. Hopkins from Windsor died of a fever.  The Captain is some better, his wife is here taken care of him.

The nine months men are all here now.  It is rumored we might spend the winter in Washington.

Our wagoner, Mr. Brown, got drunk the other day and whipped one of his mules so bad they had to kill him.  Brown is in the guard house now.

October 31st, 1862 (Camp Seward, Virginia)

You will see we are in the rebels’ country now.  The whole Vermont Brigade marched through the city and over the long bridge into Virginia.  I tell you, it was a splendid sight to see those five thousand soldiers all in a mile and a half string.  We marched in four ranks with our regiment in the lead.

The land here is very pleasant with good water.  It once belonged to the rebel General Lee.

November 3rd, 1862 (Camp near Alexandria, Virginia)

We have moved again.  I have not seen a rebel yet except for prisoners.  I do not like it here very much.  The inhabitants are mostly Negroes.  Butter is 36 cents a pound, cheese 20 and apples 3 for 5 cents-so I cannot eat a great deal of such stuff or my money would not hold out. If we are stationed here this winter, you should send me some things.  I know it will cost considerable, but I cannot help that.  I do not feel I should deprive myself of everything for the sake of making money.

November 18th, 1862 (Camp Vermont, Virginia)

I received a letter from you last night and you had better believe I was glad to hear you was well.  My health is first rate.  We are busy building our barracks so we can spend the winter here.

First we dig a trench 20 inches deep and a foot wide, then we put split 8-foot white oak logs on end in the ditch and fill around them with dirt to make the walls.  When the canvas roof is up, it will look like a house.  We are going to plaster the cracks with Virginia mud and if it sticks as well as it does to our boots, it should keep the wind out.  I think we can make ourselves very comfortable.

November 26, 1862 (Camp Vermont, Virginia) [Leading up to Thanksgiving Day]

I was glad to hear from you and that you are well.  My health is very good.  I was glad for the two dollars you sent me for I was entirely out of money.  I think we should be thankful that we can hear from one another so often.

Martin had a box of stuff come Monday from Hartland, and then he had some more come tonight in Hammond’s box.  I ate the best breakfast of my life this morning.  I tell you, Martin is a swell fellow.

I have not the fear that I expected I would.  I have been on picket duty twice and have not seen rebels.


November 30, 1862 (Camp Vermont, Virginia)

We are very busy here nowadays.  The 13th, 14th and 15th regiments have left here, leaving only the 16th besides our 12th to do picket duties.  We are sometimes sent out four or five miles from camp.  There are two or three men stationed at a post.  We stay at a post for 8 hours.  When relieved we put our rubber blanket on the ground and our woolen blankets over us and sleep just like a pig.

December 7th, 1862 (Camp Vermont, Virginia)

We bought a little box stove for our house.  It has an oven so we can bake potatoes or warm up chicken pies or turkey and fixings.

One man from our company is going home. Mr. Lamphere from Hartland died this morning of brain fever.

The boys had whiskey dealt out to them yesterday, but I did not drink any.

December 13th, 1862 (Camp near Fairfax Court House, Virginia)

You will see that the whole brigade has moved from Camp Vermont.  It came pretty tough for us to leave our barracks we had just fixed up for winter.  The army is moving forward and we have to move up to take the place of those who have gone forward.

I learnt this morning that General Burnside has burnt Fredericksburg and is marching on Richmond.

January 3rd, 1863 (Camp Fairfax, Virginia)

A very pleasant day here today. I done my washing this forenoon. A lot of us went down to the brook and built a fire and het up some water for washing. I do not believe in washing Saturday, but we have to wash when we have the chance.

We have our tent stockaded so it’s as comfortable as our barracks at Camp Vermont.

You say you have 6 sheep.  I think the sheep and calf would eat what hay I got up.

January 9th, 1863 (Camp Fairfax, Virginia)

We shall have all the fighting we want, but that is what we came for.  If I ever go into battle, I hope I shall be able to do my duty and if I fall, I hope to die in a good cause, but I fear the disease in camp more than I do the enemy’s balls.

You should send me some letter stamps if you can get them.  What have you done with the hog money?

January 12th, 1863 (Camp Fairfax, Virginia) [after receiving butter]

I tell you, Maroa, that is the best butter I ever eat in my life.  I make a cup of tea and then put in a piece of butter and crumble in my hard crackers and it goes first rate.

I get your letters the third day after they are mailed.  We get the Journal [Windsor paper?] every Monday night.  That is quicker than we used to get it at home sometimes.

We have plenty of company now days.  What’s left of a brigade of PA. Buck Tails came in here the other night. It is interesting to hear them tell what they been through.  They have seen hard service, I think 13 battles.  The last they was in was Fredericksburg where they were cut up pretty bad.  They were in the 7 Days fight before Richmond, also Antietam, and South Mountain, and Bull Run.  They have lost their knapsacks and blankets four times and had to pay for new ones.  They are smart as steel but have been out so long they are pretty rough.

January 18th, 1863 (Camp Fairfax, Virginia)

A letter from Martin (Herrick):

I write you at the request of your husband as he and Charley [James’s brother] are sicke with the measles.  I think they are doing as well as can be expected.  I will sit with them tonight.  I don’t want you to worry, they have good care.

January 19th – The boys rested very well.  I think they will soon get up again.



The regiment moved ten miles to Wolf Run Shoals. [James stays behind to convalesce for a month.]

January 19, 1863 (Camp Fairfax, Virginia)

I am getting along as well as could be expected.  It snowed all yesterday and all night and is a foot deep.  Oh, it is so lonesome here since the regiment moved.  There are 14 of us left sick with 7 left to take care of us.

February 22nd, 1863 (Camp near Wolf Run Shoals)

We are with our regt. Once more.  We walked some, rode in a transport wagon part way and an ambulance some over the worst road you ever saw in your life.  Started snowing last night, about a foot on the ground and still coming.  I’m feeling as good as a colt today.

March 4th, 1863

I feel anxious to hear the proceedings of the town meeting and to know the town officers.

March 10th, 1863

The rebels cut up a right smart caper the other night.  They came up to our picket line wearing our uniforms and found what the countersign was, then came through to Fairfax and took General Stoughton and some twenty other prisoners along with about a hundred horses.  There was not a gun fired.  The General had no business being five miles from his men, he’s probably in Richmond now.

March 14, 1863

You asked if my butter and cheese was gone.  It’s been gone some time.  You said you would send me more, but I don’t think it best.  I don’t think it pays to send stuff and I have to give half of it away or be called a hog and I don’t like that.  The money it costs will do more good in some other way.

You may tell Sherman that he needn’t put any dependence on me to help him hay, for I don’t think I’ll do much haying this summer.  If I live to get home I shall take things easy.

March 26th, 1863 (Wolf Run Shoals)

My health is very good excepting a lame back.  Oh how I wish this accursed war would end, but we must put our trust in God and wait patiently for the result.  We are busy preparing a new campground a half mile away.  This one has become quite sickly.  Fred Small is sick with the fever.  George Parker is better.  I don’t think he would have lived if his father hadn’t come out here.


March 27th,  1863 (Wolf Run Shoals)

We had a dress parade tonight and the brigade band was here and played. I’d like to know what good is a brigade band, all they do is play for the general and sometimes for the regiments on dress parade.  They don’t have picket duty, that’s what makes a man feel old, to be out nights on guard.  I feel 5 yrs. Older than when I came out, but I don’t care if only I get home safe.

March 31st, 1863 (near Wolf  Run Shoals)

The boys have been stockading the new campground, got pretty much ready to move, the fireplace built, ready for the tents to make the roof.  Yesterday the order came down to turn the regmt. end for end so they can build a rifle pit on the east end.  What a mad set of boys, we tore out our stockade and now it storms so it just sits there all piled up.

Write me how much the listers apprised the sheep and calf.  I would be willing to pay my fair share of taxes if only I could be home.  I should like to be there to go to the school meeting this evening, but I suppose they will get along without me.

I hope and trust that we shall live to enjoy ourselves yet.  I little thought when we were married that we should be separated so soon by the wickedest war ever.  I hope right will prevail and soon too for I for one am sick of the way this war is carried on.

April 5, 1863 (near Wolf Run Shoals)

Rosto Turner died this morning of typhoid pneumonia. There is a good many sick in the regmt.  Our company is no worse than most, but there ain’t more than fifty (out of 101) that report for duty and a good many of them ain’t fit for duty.

We have more sudden change than in Vermont.  One day will be warm and pleasant and the next it will snow like the very mischief.  Then it will be warm with mud up to your knees.

April 30th, 1863 (near Wolf Run Shoals)

Lieut. Hammond got a pass for Alexandria so he took the boys money to send by express to his father.  I put in thirty-five dollars for you so you will have to go to D. Hammond for it.

Charles Spaulding wrote me that Charles [James’s brother in an Alexandria hospital] is pretty bad off, but I can’t get a pass to see him.

How I would like to be at home plowing and doing spring work.   I like farming better than soldiering.  It will be a happy day when I can set foot on the soil of Old Vermont.  All accounts are the rebs are getting pretty hard up.   They have got to give up sooner or later.

May 3rd, 1863 (In the field)

Old Mosby made a raid here this forenoon, they came within a quarter mile of our camp.  There were two or three companies of 1st Virginia here.  They killed one and wounded quite a number.  Our men with the 5th New York rallied on them, killed a good many and wounded a good many more.  They wounded Mosby and got his sabre but he got away.  We were too late to take any part in the fight.  I saw several dead rebs.  I tell you, it was a horrid sight to see them laying there all blood and dirt.

May 8th, 1863 (On the banks of the Rappahannock River)

When I came in from picket yesterday morning, we took the cars to this place.  Made camp in a clover field and did some pretty tall sleeping.

We have got to where something is going on.

The contrabands [negroes] come in every day.  They say the rebs are very short of provisions.  It’s amusing to talk to them, some are pretty intelligent considering the chance they have had.

There was seventeen thousand of Hooker’s cavalry camped near us last night.  They have been within five miles of Richmond.  Their business is to cut off communication, destroy bridges, burn depots and do all the damage they can.  You have no idea the amount of property that has been destroyed.  I have seen more in the last week than all the time I’ve been here.  If you can sell the calf for ten or twelve dollars, I think you should do it.

May 23rd, 1863 (Bristow Station)

We are twenty miles from the Rappahannock now, our brigade is pretty well scattered about.  Our duty is to protect the railroad, which is not very hard.  We don’t have to drill now, a good thing as it is very hot.  Charles is better and got a discharge.  We hope to be leaving for Vermont soon.  If I live to get out of this, they will have to hitch a pretty strong team to get me back in the army.


May 24, 1863 (Union Mills)

I like moving on the cars.  It is a heap easier than carrying our Government bureaus on our backs.

I must eat my supper.  I will tell you what we have had for a change.  We have hardtack and coffee for supper and coffee and hardtack for breakfast.  Salt port and soft bread occasionally.

June 11, 1863 (Union Mills)

It has been pretty stirring times here for the past few days.  Hooker’s army is falling back, the rebs are trying to get to Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Last Sunday the troops commenced passing here.  I never saw such a sight in my life.  I was on picket where I had a fair view of what passed.  It was one steady string of Cavalry, infantry, and artillery.  They stopped after midnight and started again at three a.m.  What this great move will amount to, I don’t know.

June 21, 1863 (Back at Wolf Run Shoals)

There has been heavy cannonading today, but where or what the result, I do not know.  Some say there will be another Bull Run battle this summer.  If we are needed, they probably will keep us until the 4th, if not we should start for home next Saturday.

The letters home end here, even though James’s enlistment did not end until July 14, 1863.  James notes that General Hooker’s Army of the Potomac is hurrying north.  They are trying to head off General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which is planning on taking the war to the North.  General George Stannard from Georgia, VT is now commanding the Second Vermont Brigade , having replaced the captured General Stoughton.  General Stannard receives orders to follow the main army north at as quick a pace as possible.  In his book Nine Months to Gettysburg, Howard Coffin makes great use of letters home and diaries kept by soldiers.  He notes that in late June the writing nearly stops as the entire Second Brigade embarks on an eight-day/130 mile forced march from Union Mills, VA to Gettysburg.  Mr. Coffin describes how every road north was filled with soldiers.  Many were dropping from exhaustion in the 90? heat.  It showered hard every day but one, turning the dust to mud.  The roadsides were littered with cast-off belongings.  Many of the men’s shoes would give out and they would have to march on in socks or barefoot.  The men were under strict orders not to break ranks to fill their canteens at wells or streams they passed.  As they approached Gettysburg, the 12th and 15th regiments were assigned to guard the corps wagon trains at the rear.  The other three regiments continued on to the battlefield.

Coffin says there are many firsthand accounts of the war because of the high literacy level found among Vermonters of the 1860’s.

Les Motschman

Note from Les:

In the first two issues, I encouraged readers to forward to me any information they had about their Hartland ancestors’ Civil War service.  I have heard from a few of you and I have been able to update some of the many family connections that Howland Atwood provided in his account of “Hartland in the Civil War” fifty years ago.  It is becoming apparent to me that there may not be many HHS members descended from the two hundred men from Hartland who served in the Civil War.  However, several readers have told me about their non-Hartland ancestors who were in the Civil War.  So now I welcome any accounts of Civil War veterans in your families and will devote a separate section in the newsletters to them. [I already have a very interesting account from a Virginia man who has a second home in Hartland.  His ancestor, a Confederate colonel, led an attack at Gettysburg against a position held by the 2nd Vermont Brigade.]

Send info to Les Motschman, 193 Weed Road, Windsor, VT  05089 (or to susanmaple@juno.com.)


Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, 2013.

Hartland in the Civil War – Part 4


(Fourth Installment, June, 2013)

by Les Motschman

The last installment in this series comprised firsthand accounts of camp life in Virginia as experienced by the “Nine Months” men of the Second Vermont Infantry Brigade. I enjoyed reading the 60 letters Pvt. James Bowers wrote to his young wife, Maroa. I thought they gave good insight into how the men were spending their time, their thoughts about the war and home, and how they coped with the danger posed by not just the rebs but also the ever-present threat of disease. While working on that issue, I was trying to acquire copies of the “Hammond” letters Howard Coffin cites several times in Nine Months to Gettysburg and refers to in his latest book Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today’s Vermont. Coffin thanks long-time Hartland resident Sidney Hammond for giving him copies. I received the copies from Sid’s son, John, just as I finished the last issue, so I will write a little about them now.

The 44 Hammond letters are mostly from 20-year-old Jabez writing to his father, Dan, in West Windsor. Three are from Dan to Jabez, wanting to know everything that his “four little boys were doing in the Great Big War.” There were four Hammond brothers in Co. A of the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment. Ira was the oldest at 27; as a teamster, his duties were different from those of most of the men. Pvt. Bowers in his letters referred to a “Lieutenant Hammond,” who would have been 26-year-old Stephen. Harler was the next in age, and Jabez, the youngest, was a corporal. His duties included making up the details for picket duty and guard duty at the camp. Dan refers to his sons by several nicknames, and Sid wrote that he didn’t always know who was who. Jabez sometimes signed as Bogus; other names were Lightfoot, Scratchass, Deacon, and The Orderly.

Both Bowers and Hammond wrote a lot about their health and how others in the company were doing. In return, the letters from home included health updates on the family members and neighbors. I think people must have been very thankful when they were enjoying good health  because they knew when they weren’t feeling well it could turn into something serious, especially in the camps.  Surprisingly, another topic both men wrote a lot about, especially when spring came, was when they would head back to Vermont. It seems to have been a major topic of discussion in camp. They weren’t sure if their nine months started when they enlisted, or left home for Brattleboro, or were sworn into the U. S. Army. Both men mentioned late May as a possible end of their service. Their last letters around the middle of June when they were aware some big battle might be shaping up, indicated they were sure July 4th was the last day the Army could keep them. Both men repeated rumors either that they might be released early or that the Army wouldn’t let them go in the middle of the “fighting season” and they would involuntarily be extended three to six months. July 14, 1863, was in fact the day the men in the 12th Vermont Regiment were mustered out of the Army.

Sid Hammond first encountered the packet of letters in his grandmother’s bureau drawer, as an eleven-year-old interested in stamp collecting. He was told he must not tamper with them in any way. Home from college in 1949, Sid noticed that his father, confined to bed with an illness, was reading them. Sid spent many hours that summer transcribing them into typewritten pages to make them easier to read.

When he had five children of his own, they used the typed letters for reports and term papers at school. Sid did not see the original letters again until 1982, when he learned another Hammond family had them. They


gave the letters to Sid, and he went to work again to decipher the handwriting and the sometimes confusing capitalization and punctuation. He created the fine 60-plus page folder I enjoyed spending a few hours with, a welcome addition to the Hartland Historical Society.

Sid was Jabez Hammond’s great-grandson. Sid owned a farm on Mace Hill Rd. near the center of town. Sid’s son John now owns the farm, and John’s son Jabez Hammond lives there. Sid died in 2000.

[These letters are available to read at vermontcivilwar.org/units/12/Hammond.php.  You will see a description, and then can click on the dates for individual letters.]

Chancellorsville  Campaign

The second issue in our Civil War series ended with the disastrous Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13, 1862. Both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia remained in the Fredericksburg area for the winter. President Lincoln relieved Gen. Burnside of his command January 25, 1863. He was replaced by one of his corps commanders, Gen. Joseph Hooker, who worked through the winter to restore morale and get his army ready for a spring offensive. By the end of April, Gen. Hooker had the best equipped army yet as well as a plan to divide his forces and trap Gen. Lee’s rebel army. The battle of Chancellorsville was a series of battles from May 1st to 6th, 1863.

First, in an attempt to distract Lee, Gen. John Sedgwick took the First and Sixth Army Corps across the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg, and made another assault on Marye’s Heights, site of the worst fighting in December. Attack after attack was repulsed, but the Confederate force wasn’t as large as before, so by noon Sedgwick’s forces broke through and headed for Chancellorsville ten miles away. The 1st Vermont Infantry Brigade was attached to the First Corps, so Hartland men in the 3rd, 4th and 6th regiments were at Marye’s Heights. Corp. Roderick Bagley was wounded and taken prisoner there May 3. He was paroled June 23 but didn’t return to the 3rd Vermont.

As Sedgwick’s troops moved to the rear of Lee’s forces, they encountered a Confederate division at Salem Heights, sent to beat back the Union threat. The Vermont 3rd, 4th, and 5th regiments fought there, while the 6th did gallant service at nearby Bank’s Ford. There the 6th drove back the rebs and took 250 prisoners. Samuel Jones was wounded there May 4.

Meanwhile, Gen. Hooker, with the main Union force, was trying to circle Lee’s army, unfortunately without adequate reconnaissance from the cavalry. They found themselves in an area known as The

Wilderness, a country of stunted, scrubby holly and cedar trees tangled in webs of vine and briars. Gen. Hooker called a halt near Chancellorsville as they could not see the enemy. Confederate Generals J.E.B. Stuart and Stonewall Jackson knew the country well, so they engaged the Union in battle for four days.

It was horrible fighting in the thickets. Cannons belched grapeshot and canister at close range, setting the

woods on fire. The screams of the wounded as the fire approached were reportedly beyond description. Sedgwick and Hooker retreated across the river. Hooker lost 17,000 men. Lee lost 13,000, including his favorite General, Stonewall Jackson, who was shot by his own men while he was checking the lines at dusk.

[These accounts of the Battle of Chancellorsville are mostly from Howland Atwood’s notebook where he cites The Compact History of the Civil War.]


Chancellorsville was the last of a series of Union failures in Virginia, after each of which Lincoln changed commanders. Gen. Burnside’s whiskers inspired the term “sideburns.” It is said that Gen. Hooker’s name was appropriated to describe a certain kind of camp follower, a term that is still in use today. The Gen. Hooker equestrian statue guards the Hooker entrance to the Massachusetts State Capitol in Boston.

I have been to Fredericksburg twice. Like most battlefield parks, it has been preserved or restored to look as it did before the battle.  It’s a beautiful, peaceful place.  You can walk the broad slope where tens of  thou- sands of Union troops attacked in wave after wave. Thousands fell there, killed or wounded. Above you are the stone wall and sunken road defended by rebel infantry. From atop the hill called Marye’s Heights, the Confederate artillery rained fire on the open field. I wondered, as most men would, what was it like to have been there? What would I have done? As a noncombant Marine with several weeks of infantry training, I know something about discipline, following orders, and unit cohesiveness–but no one of us knows how we would perform in combat until tested. I think Pvt. Bowers speaks for most men when he wrote to his wife, “If I ever go into battle, I hope I shall be able to do my duty, and if I fall I hope to die in a good cause.”

War has always been part of human history and shows no sign of abating. Clans, sects and countries often take up arms to settle their differences. What draws men to fight? A little piece in the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Visitor Guide gives some insight.

In June of 1863, Maj. Richard Crandall was home on leave from the 6th Vermont Regiment. He and a friend camped on the summit of Mt. Ascutney. On that early summer evening, Crandall talked of being part of Gen. John Sedgwick’s attack at Second Fredericksburg and remarked, “Oh, to have lived a minute then was worth a thousand years.”  Crandall was killed by a sharpshooter in the Cold Harbor trenches a year later.


The biggest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere

Books, reports, and accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg abound. The three-day battle on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1863, was the biggest of the Civil War. In Gettysburg are the largest number of  monuments of any Civil War battlefield, marking the spots where units served or officers fell. Gettysburg is the most visited Civil War battlefield; tourists have gone there since the smoke cleared. In 2013, the 150th year since the battle, tens of thousands of re-enactors and about 200,000 visitors are expected in the weeks just before and after the battle dates.

Maintaining my theme, I will not try to describe the entire massive battle, instead concentrating on where Hartland men were. I will make a couple of exceptions though, for some Vermont units without Hartland men that earned everlasting glory for little Vermont at pivotal points in the battle that turned out to be the pivotal battle of the whole War. The Civil War exhibit at the Vermont Historical Society building in Barre indicates that 11 Vermont regiments were at Gettysburg where the 13th, 14th, and 16th Regiments and the 1st Cavalry saw most of the action.

In his 1960 book Civil War, Bruce Catton writes that Chancellorsville was Gen. Lee’s most brilliant victory, but won at a heavy cost. Lee knew he was winning the battles but losing a war of attrition. Lee’s army numbered just 60,000 at Chancellorsville, half of “Fighting Joe” Hooker’s army. If not for Hooker’s caution


and unfamiliarity with the terrain, the Confederate army might have been crushed. Lee decided to mount another daring raid on the North while he still could. A major decisive Union defeat in Pennsylvania would so alarm the populace in the North that it might bring an end to the war on terms favorable to the South. Lee knew if he lost in Union territory, he might very well lose his army and the war.

President Lincoln was devastated by Hooker’s loss. Hooker wanted to make another move on Richmond. Lincoln said “No, Lee’s army must be the ‘objective point.’ ” Federal columns started north in pursuit of Lee’s invading army. It was certain that the two armies would soon meet again in a full battle. Lincoln thought Hooker was the wrong man to have in command, so on June 28 he replaced him with Maj. Gen. George Meade, a corps commander. Gettysburg seemed like a likely battle site as roads from all directions converged there. Lee’s Southern army approached from the north. Meade’s Northern army approached from the south.

Also on June 28, the Vermont First Cavalry Regiment was attached to the U. S. Cavalry. As the cavalry gained experience, it became a better match for Confederate Gen. J. E. B. Stuart’s daring, skilled horsemen. The Vermont Humanities Council’s weekly Civil War paper of June 7 states that the Gettysburg Campaign started with the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863. The Union Cavalry discovered that Lee’s army was on the move. Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle of the war and both sides had hundreds of casualties. Stuart was deeply embarrassed that the Union attack had taken him by surprise.

As reported earlier, one of the main cavalry functions was to provide information to commanders on the enemy’s strength and position. Gen. Hooker had just suffered a terrible defeat because he sent his army into battle not fully knowing the terrain or the enemy’s exact strength and location. The Union cavalry was away trying to destroy railroads above Richmond in an effort to cut off supplies to the Confederate Army. Just a few weeks later, it was Lee’s turn to be maneuvering blind. When the invading army entered Pennsylvania, Lee’s three infantry corps and cavalry were widely separated. Their presence had the desired effect as it caused widespread panic. Yet, with J. E. B. Stuart’s cavalry raiding well to the east, Lee did not know that the Union army had left Virginia and was closing fast on him. As all roads led to Gettysburg, that was the handiest place to concentrate his forces.

July First

The first Confederate troops to enter Gettysburg were looking for shoes. They encountered Union cavalry there and skirmished with them. As more troops from both armies poured in, the fighting intensified. The Confederates pushed the Union forces out of the town and formed a defensive line along Seminary Ridge.

When the battle opened, the Sixth Army Corps, including the First Vermont Brigade with several Hartland men, was still in Maryland 30 miles away. That evening, they started for Gettysburg. Gen. John Sedgwick gave his famous order to “put the Vermonters ahead and keep the column well closed.”

Meanwhile, the Second Vermont Brigade led by hard-driving Gen. Stannard, had stopped for the night at Emmitsburg, Maryland. Stannard received an order from Gen. John Reynolds, Commander of the First Army Corps, to hasten to join him as he was nearing Gettysburg and expected to be attacked that day. The weary Vermonters, including about three dozen Hartland men who had been marching for six days, hit the road. Soon, orders were received to detail the 12th and 15th to guard the First Corps wagon train. The majority of Hartland men were in the 12th, so they would not be engaged in the great battle. The 13th, 14th, and 16th arrived the evening of the first day of the bloody battle. The First Corps had entered the battle as soon as they arrived. Gen. Reynolds was killed. The Union troops were forced to give ground until Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock took command and rallied Union forces to retake some lost ground.


The fighting had died down for the night and most of the Second Vermont Brigade was told to sleep on the ground in full dress with their rifles by their sides. One third of the 16th was assigned picket duty. Those 200 men spent a warm and fearful night among the dead and wounded on the battlefield between the armies. Seven Hartland men in Co. H of the 16th were Charles Alexander, Thomas Benjamin, William Dodge, Charles S. Gardner, Thomas Lenehan, Lewis J. M. Marcy, and Thomas Tracy. They would have been the ones fighting at Gettysburg. Benjamin and Gardner were wounded July Third.

July Second

When Gen. Meade arrived with the main Union army, the Federal forces immediately seized Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, and Culp’s Hill. As more Union forces entered the battlefield, the nearly three-mile Union line took the shape of a giant fishhook. The 1,500 soldiers in the Second Vermont Brigade found themselves to be near the center of the line somewhat to the rear, close to Gen. Meade’s headquarters. The Hartland men in the 12th accompanied the Corps wagon train to Rock Creek Church, about two and a half miles from the battlefield.  Company B, which included 26 Hartland men, was sent forward to guard the ammunition wagons at the edge of the battlefield.

The fighting was mostly on the right and left flanks of the Union line. The fighting on the left was especially fierce, with hundreds of casualties. The Union line was getting thin in places. Late in the day, Lee sent even more troops against the blue line in an attempt to roll it towards the center and possibly break through. A Minnesota regiment was brought to the line and quickly lost four-fifths of its men. The three regiments of the Second Vermont Brigade were still resting on Cemetery Hill. They formed up and marched at double quick a mile down the Tanneytown Road to where the battle was loudest. As soon as the Vermonters leading the First Corps crested the ridge, they were in the thick of the battle, firing and taking fire. The Union line held and the second bloody day of the battle ended. That night, men from the 16th were again sent out onto the battlefield to do picket duty among the dead and dying. The 13th and 14th dug in along the line to make their position more secure for the battle that would surely take place the next day.

The seasoned Vermonters of the First Brigade came in at the head of the 15,000-man Sixth Corps near the end of the fighting. The exhausted troops were deployed at the extreme left of the Union line to replace men lost in the day’s fighting. The “Old Brigade” would not have to fight at Gettysburg.

July Third

As another hot day dawned, the Confederates attacked Culps Hill on the right end of the Union line. The Second Vermont Brigade took occasional cannon fire. One shot hit an ammunition wagon and killed or wounded several men of the 14th. Mid-morning, the Confederates called off the attack and quiet settled over the battlefield. After noon, the men could see movement along Seminary Ridge a mile away across the open battlefield. At one o’clock, a single cannon shot signaled 150 Confederate cannon along a two-mile line to commence firing. When Federal cannon joined in, over 275 cannon were engaged in a great artillery duel. Lt. Benedict, an aide to Gen. Stannard, described it: “The air seemed filled with flying missiles. Shells whizzed and popped on every side. Spherical case exploded over us and rained down iron bullets. Canister hurtled around us and round shot plowed up the ground.”

Howard Coffin in Nine Months to Gettysburg says the men of the Second Brigade laid face down on the ground under a hot mid-day sun during the artillery barrage which lasted over two hours. Many men were wounded by shrapnel, and some  were killed, but as Cemetery Ridge is only a gentle rise, many of the shells passed over the front lines and landedfar in the rear. The fire wreaked havoc on supply wagons and support troops. Many horses were maimed or killed. At Gen. Meade’s headquarters, an orderly serving lunch was torn in half by a shell. The men of the 16th still out on the field on picket were in the safest place as shot from both sides sailed over them. Incredibly, there were reports that many men lying in the hot sun were lulled to


sleep by the constant din. Through it all, Gen. Stannard and his staff stood erect or walked among the lines.

Around 3 p.m., Union cannons let up. Soon the Confederates stopped shelling as well. The silence was awesome. Men woke up, the wounded were taken to the rear, and officers checked their men. The Vermonters seemed to be in good condition. They understood that the intense fire directed at them near the Union center was a prelude to an infantry attack. Remember that the entire Second Brigade was made up of Nine Months men whose enlistments were just about up. The men in the 12th would be back in Vermont in less than a week. One can only imagine how many prayers they offered up from the battlefield that day. If they could just get through this battle, they’d be headed home.

As the smoke cleared from the battlefield, Vermonters could see long ranks of gray-clad soldiers emerging from the rebel line, battle flags unfurled and bayonets gleaming. Lee had ordered more than 12,000 men to attack the middle of the long Union line. Major General George Pickett and 5,000 Virginians led the charge. Union cannon opened fire and blew holes in the gray ranks, but still they came at a quick pace. No officer had to give the men of the 16th an order to leave the picket line; they rose, fired once, and ran to the Union lines. Gen. Stannard ordered the men not to fire until the rebs were near. The broad line of attack seemed to be focused on a small copse of trees to the Vermonters’ right as the whole mass of confederates veered that way. Now the rebels were passing across the front of the Vermont regiments at a distance of a thousand feet. The 14th rose and let loose a volley followed by the 13th.

The volleys did damage to the rebel attack, but some had breached the Union line and headed for the cannons. Gen. Stannard saw an opportunity and gave what Coffins calls “the order of his life and maybe of the whole war.” He ordered the 13th and 16th to form up on the field and make a line so they could fire at short range directly into the Confederate flank. The Vermonters were not experienced in battle, but they had spent many hours in camp drilling. They jogged in formation a hundred yards down the field to get closer to the rebs and then executed a complex drill maneuver peeling off company by company to quickly form a 900-man firing line close to the rebel flank. The field was littered with Confederate casualties, but their soldiers were still pressing the center of the Union line hard, with bayonet fighting along Cemetery Ridge.

The Vermonters fired no more than 8 to 12 rounds, but every bullet took effect at such short range. Some of the attackers turned on the Vermonters. The Confederates were taking canister fire at their front and musket fire on three sides. Finally, rebs were throwing down their guns and running towards the Vermonters to surrender. Colonel Randall, the 13th’s commander, ran in front of his men ordering them to cease fire, and then directed the rebs into his lines, thus saving many Southern lives.

Where Confederate troops engaged Union defenders on Cemetery Ridge is considered the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy.” The repulse of Pickett’s Charge dashed the South’s hopes of a great victory on Northern soil. Although the War would last almost another two years, the momentum was now with the Union. The next day, July Fourth, Vicksburg, 1,000 miles away, was surrendered to Gen. U. S.  Grant. The Union now controlled the entire Mississippi River.

Late in the battle, Gen. Stannard was wounded but, he stayed on the field until the end of the fighting. He is credited as the first Vermonter to volunteer when war was declared. In 1867 the Vermont Legislature named a town in his honor. His statue stands atop on a very tall column on the battlefield where he commanded the Second Vermont Brigade. The Second Vermont suffered 46 killed, 240 wounded, and 56 missing. Some wounded died weeks later in Vermont and some veterans suffered physical or mental disability for years.

Also late in the battle, the 1st Vermont Cavalry, then part of the U. S. Cavalry, participated in an ill-conceived charge with five killed, 16 wounded and 55 missing. This may have been where Hartland’s  Capt. Oliver Cushman was wounded. Cushman left Dartmouth early in the war to join the Cavalry. The Cushmans lived on what is now known as the Hoisington Farm.


July Fourth

The exhausted troops of the 13th, 14th, and 16th were told to go and sleep in the rear. It started raining in the night and accounts indicate most men slept for hours lying on the ground in the pouring rain. Gen. Lee prepared his army to be attacked. True to form, the Union Commander, Meade, did not think his army was in good enough shape to press Lee. The Confederates started slipping away toward the Potomac. After hearing from President Lincoln, Meade mounted a half-hearted pursuit. Lee’s 17-mile-long train consisted of not only the army and its supplies, but also 10,000 animals accumulated from Pennsylvania farms as well as Union prisoners. The train’s progress was stalled at the Potomac crossing, where the troops set up a strong defensive position. The Union force sent to pursue encountered the Confederates on July 10th. The Third Infantry Regiment was on the front line of a fierce fight known as the Battle of Funkstown. Hartland soldier Thomas Leonard was wounded there. The Army of Northern Virginia returned to Virginia able to fight another day.

In describing where Vermonters were at Gettysburg, I have used Howland Atwood’s notebook, and of course Howard Coffin’s Nine Months to Gettysburg. Coffin says he wrote Nine Months because he didn’t think Vermonters get enough credit in the history books for the important work they did there. I have also referred to Coffin’s first book, Full Duty. I have the book that was Coffin’s main source for Nine Months, the 900-page History of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, which Coffin calls one of the best regimental histories from the Civil War. Pvt. Ralph Sturtevant spent his whole life writing this history and gathering individual accounts and pictures of the nearly 1,000-man 13th Regiment. My great-grandfather, Marcus Best, from the northwestern Vermont town of Highgate was a tentmate of Sturtevant’s and was in an Alexandria hospital at the time of Gettysburg. The book was published nearly 50 years after Gettysburg and a couple years after Sturtevant’s death.

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In the last issue, I indicated I would like to hear about your Civil War ancestors, even if they are not connected to Hartland. The newsletters will end with whatever HHS members give me to share with you.

I’ll go first.  I mentioned Marcus Best above. Sturtevant writes that the fever Best had in camp affected him the rest of his life. Still, he was a farmer and ran a store for a while. He also had seven children with three wives. The youngest, my grandfather, Guy Best, came with Marcus when he moved to Reading late in life.  Guy Best lived in Hartland his entire adult life.

Life-long Hartland resident Edith Barrell White has two connections to the Hartland Roster. Perry Lam-phere was her grandfather, John F. Barrell’s half-brother. Lamphere was in the 6th Vermont Infantry Regt. From October 15, 1861 to January 1, 1864. He died of disease in New York City and is buried in the  Hartland Village Cemetery. John F. Barrell’s oldest brother, Hubbard, went to the Civil War from Connecticut. Another brother, Edgar Barrell, enlisted October 19, 1861 in the 6th New Hampshire. Infantry Regt. From Plainfield, He was wounded at Second Battle of Bull Run, August 29, 1862.

  • William Barker was Edith’s great-grandfather. He was in the 14th New Hampshire. Infantry Regt. and died in a Washington, D.C. hospital.
  • Another great-grandfather, Auria Luce, enlisted October 16th, 1863, in the 17th Vermont Infantry Regt. from Royalton. He spent the last year of the war in a hospital.


  • A third great-grandfather, Andrew Gallagher of Roxbury, Massachusetts served in the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry during the last year of the war.

The other Hartland connection is that John F. Barrell’s oldest sister married Oscar Davis, one of the Davis twins in the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment.  Although a “Nine Months’ Man,” he served only six months, so he would have missed the long march and Gettysburg.  [Thanks, Edith, for this information.]

A Southern Family in the Civil War

[A Southern Family in the Civil War was submitted by Fielding L. Williams of Richmond, Virginia and Hartland, Vermont.

The Civil War had a tragic impact on families on both sides. Juxtaposed against stories of Hartland families are stories of southern families, such as that of Lewis B. Williams. In 1861 he was a lawyer in Orange, Virginia, in practice with his son, Lewis B. Williams, Jr., age 28, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute.

By early 1861 seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. Virginia was not one of them and was undecided as to what course to follow. The Virginia legislature called for an election of delegates to a special convention to decide whether Virginia should secede. Lewis Williams was opposed to secession and ran as a delegate in support of the Union.  He was defeated by a secessionist candidate.

The delegates convened in Richmond, Virginia, on February 13. After weeks of debate, and despite the secession of other states, on April 4, by a vote of 90 to 45, the delegates voted that Virginia should not secede. Eight days later, on April 12, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Still Virginia failed to act. Then, on April 15, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers from all states to put down the rebellion. This meant Virginia must turn against sister Southern states, and it aroused anti-unionism to the point that, on April 17, the convention approved Virginia’s secession by a vote of 88 to 55.

Lewis Williams, Jr., immediately joined the Confederate army and was appointed a Captain in the 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Wounded, captured and released in 1862, he rose to the rank of Colonel, and on July 3, 1863, he commanded the 1st Virginia Regiment at Gettysburg in the attack on Union positions known as Pickett’s Charge. Because he was ill on that day, he was granted permission to ride a horse as he led his troops in the attack, making him an especially vulnerable target. As he crossed the field, he was struck by a shell that severed his spinal cord, and when he fell from his horse, he landed on his drawn sword. He died after four days of agony and was buried on the battlefield.

Burial of Confederate dead at Gettysburg was understandably haphazard. There were more than 3,000 bodies to be dealt with. Unlike the Federal dead who were reburied in a special battlefield cemetery, the Confederates, regarded as traitors by the Federal Government, were left in shallow graves or trenches. Their ultimate removal and reburial is a story in itself.  Colonel Williams’ body was shipped to Baltimore by friends in 1863 and later, in 1896, was removed to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, and was buried next to General George Pickett.

Lewis Williams, the father who had ardently opposed Virginia’s leaving the Union, had subsequently become a loyal supporter of the Confederate cause and lost to it his beloved namesake.

The havoc caused by the Civil War is very sad, but there is consolation in the perspective of historian Shelby Foote: Before the war it was always “the United States are.” After the war it became “the United States is.”  It made us one.

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Thanks to Susan Motschman for typing and layout and to Pat Richardson for help editing.


Hartland in the Civil War – Part 5


Fifth Installment, January, 2014

by Les Motschman

The  War  Becomes  a  Crusade

The fourth Hartland Historical Society Civil War newsletter of last June ended with the Battle of Gettysburg July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. In this issue, I will wrap up descriptions of the “nine months” men’s service, and recognize Hartland men who joined the army in the second half of 1863. As after Gettysburg there were no major battles in 1863 where Hartland men would have served, I will take the opportunity to describe how after two years of hard fighting, the war changed in some aspects. Lastly, I received interesting responses from four HHS members regarding their family members’ involvement in the war.

The 40 or so Hartland men who enlisted for nine months in the fall of 1862 after President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers were mustered out of the Army in the summer of 1863. Most of the Hartland men joined the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment, the first of the five Vermont regiments to make up the 5,000-man Vermont 2nd Brigade. The 12th was the first to form up at Brattleboro, the first to leave for Virginia, and thus the first to come home. Its members were mustered out of the army at Brattleboro on July 14, 1863. Seven Hartland men joined the 16th Regiment, which was the last of the five to form. They were mustered out August 10, 1863.

In a talk I attended, Howard Coffin said that the 2nd Vermont Brigade, whose term of enlistment was nearly over, was detailed to bury the dead at Gettysburg. Soon after Gettysburg, the enactment of a new draft led to demonstrations and riots in many locations throughout the North, including Irish quarry workers in West Rutland. The New York City riots were the worst, where there was extensive property damage and 250 killed or seriously wounded. Some of the returning Vermonters volunteered to go to New York, but they were not sent. Instead, seasoned combat troops from the Army of the Potomac, including Vermont’s 1st Infantry Brigade, and presumably some Hartland men were sent north to quell the rioting. Unlike the police, they did not hesitate to fire into the rioting mobs. Some soldiers who survived Gettysburg and the fierce fighting in Funkstown with Lee’s retreating army were killed in New York City.

It’s not surprising that many of the men who enlisted early in the war, mostly motivated by patriotism, looked down on the “nine months”  men, who enlisted for such a short term and for such big money. The three-year men in Vermont’s 1st Infantry Brigade, who went from one great battle to another, referred to the men of the 2nd Brigade who spent most of their short service in camp as “Nine Monthings hatched from two hundred dollar bounty eggs.”  Colonel Farnham, a 2nd Brigade Commander, thought the “nine months” strategy to fill the ranks a terrible waste and bad for overall morale. Just as the Brigade was ready for fighting, it was disbanded and sent home.

Certainly the heroics of the 13th, 14th and 16th regiments at Gettysburg earned the “nine months” men a measure of respect. All the men who volunteered did what was asked of them, and those thrown into the thick of battle performed bravely. None of the “nine months”  men from Hartland died in combat, but several young men died of disease. From my perspective 150 years later, I’m inclined to believe that many of the Hartland men of the 12th and 16th were quite proud of their service. The war was probably the most memorable event of their lives. I have a list of 50 Civil War veterans buried in Hartland (many left town after the war), and I have visited about half of their graves. The young men who died early in camp were usually sent home and buried in the family plot.

What is telling is how many gravestones of men who died when elderly feature their unit right under their names. Sometimes that is all that is on the stone, other than birth and death dates. Many of these men died decades after their service, yet this small piece of their life from when they were young is prominent on their gravestones.


                                   Gravestones of two brothers who died a month apart, Plains
Example from Village Cemetery:     Cemetery (Austin was in the 4th Vermont Regiment):

            John F. Colston             J. P. Hutchinison        Austin Hutchinson       
Musician Co. B 12th Reg. VT. Vols.          7th VT Inf.       Died at Camp Griffin, VA
               1841–1921                  d. Mar 20, 1862          d. Feb 4, 1862

The Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

The overall title of this installment (The War Becomes a Crusade) comes from Howland Atwood’s 1963 Hartland in the Civil War, where he dedicates only a few paragraphs to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History, said on NPR’s Tell Me More program in early January 2013 that the Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most misunderstood documents in American history. Most people think it freed the slaves, when in fact slavery ended when the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation began the process of emancipation when the Federal government said that slavery is wrong and it must end. Bunch said Lincoln realized that he could impact the South by taking away its workers, encouraging them to come North to work or maybe even join the Union Army. It would also add a moral tinge to the war. It’s clear that Lincoln felt that if he could end the war and restore the Union without ending slavery, that would be all right with him. The war had been going on for two years, and it wasn’t going well for the Union. Lincoln knew he had to do something bold, but he waited until the Union victory at Antietam so he could speak with more authority. For Lincoln it was an evolving situation. As soon as the war broke out, hundreds and then thousands of African-Americans fled to the Union lines. This put pressure on the North to say what it was going to do with all these people.

When he was asked, “How was the Emancipation Proclamation received?” Bunch replied, “In a variety of ways.” European nations such as England and France saw that it put a stamp of moral authority on the war. While such countries depended on the cotton that slaves produced, they decided not to recognize the Confederacy. Of course,

the abolitionists and the free black community really supported it and felt it was the beginning of the end of slavery.

Even so, many in the North asked, “Why is Lincoln making the war about slavery?” That notion didn’t go over well in the Northern Army, and many soldiers let it be known they didn’t join up to free the slaves.

Howard Coffin, in Nine Months to Gettysburg, writes that despite Vermont’s history of abolitionism, despite its 1777 Constitution as the first to outlaw slavery, and despite its role in the Underground Railroad, many of the men who fought held racial attitudes not much different from those of their Southern counterparts. What is clear, though, is that a profound reverence for the Union is what spurred many men to join the Army.

A Boston Globe article at the time of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation noted that before the war slaves comprised the largest single financial asset in the United States. Some considered the freeing of the slaves the greatest confiscation ever of private property by the Federal government.

The November 30, 2012, Vermont Humanities Council weekly “Civil War News” noted that President Lincoln for years had favored the colonization of free blacks outside the United States. By the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln was referring to slaves as Americans of African descent and asserting that objections to colored people remaining in the country were malicious.


The  54th Massachusetts  Infantry  Regiment

President Lincoln made emancipation a tactic and a goal of the war, and with it opened the military to black soldiers. Massachusetts soon became the first to call for the raising of black regiments. Frederick Douglass, a leading black activist of the time, threw himself into the effort, urging African American men throughout the country to come to Boston to join up. Hundreds did, free and fugitive alike. Of course the units would have to be segregated because even in the North most white soldiers would not serve alongside blacks. Then, the problem became who would lead them. Governor John Andrew, an abolitionist, asked 25-year-old Robert Gould Shaw, the son of a wealthy abolitionist who lived on Beacon Hill, if he would take command of the 54th. Shaw, who had been in the Army since the start of the war, reluctantly accepted, and started training the regiment. In April 1863, he was promoted to Colonel and married his sweetheart. On May 28, 1863, the Regiment marched through Boston to the cheers of a massive crowd to board ships to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The 54th fought well in limited action, so when an attack on Fort Wagner was planned, it was given the honor of leading the assault. Moving across open beach, the 54th came under heavy fire. Colonel Shaw sprang to the front and led his men as they charged. As he waved them on, he was shot through the heart. Despite the valor the 54th displayed, its assault was repulsed, and nearly half of the men were killed or wounded. Disregarding custom, the Confederates stripped Shaw’s body and threw it into a mass grave with his men. When commanders later offered to make an effort to recover the body, Shaw’s father replied that that would not be necessary, as his son would have preferred to rest with his men.

The 54th is famous. In 1883 a Boston committee commissioned sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens to create a memorial for Boston Common. It was to be complete in six months, but it took him fourteen years, and it’s a magnificent work. The 1989 film, “Glory,” tells the story of Colonel Shaw and the men of the 54th. Most of the information for my piece comes from the Boston African-American National Historic Site on Beacon Street, near the memorial and across the street from the Hooker entrance to the Massachusetts State House.

Note: The Shaw/54th Memorial is across from the State House on the highest corner of Boston Common. Having attended college on Beacon Hill and visited the city at least a dozen times a year in the ensuing 47 years, I have stopped to look at the Shaw Memorial dozens of times. I did not know the story behind it until the film, “Glory”, and then I thought the memorial showed the unit marching into battle. A year after starting this project, I went to the small museum in the Fairmont Hotel on Battery Wharf where a recruiting poster for Colored Men of African Descent” caught my eye. The text under the poster described the memorial as depicting the 54th passing in review in front of the State House, headed for Battery Wharf to board ships for South Carolina. I thought after all those years that I finally really understood what the Shaw Memorial is all about. On a subsequent trip to Boston, I visited the memorial with the knowledge that it showed the 54th passing in front of that very spot. Then I realized the men are shown marching west on Beacon Street instead of east down to the waterfront.

I talked at length with Gregory Schwarz of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. He has written a book about the Shaw/54th Memorial. He said the original plan was for the memorial to be across the street on the State House grounds. This would explain why it appears backwards to me, except that Gregory Schwarz said Saint-Gaudens was aware of the change when he started the project. A picture taken at the 1897 dedication ceremony shows veterans of the 54th in formation marching east in front of the memorial in the opposite direction of what is depicted in the sculpture. In any case, you can see a bronze casting of the Memorial that was done in 1997 for the site in nearby Cornish, New Hampshire.

I hope Hartland Historical Society readers enjoyed reading about the 54th Massachusetts and the Shaw Memorial. I am sure some of you wondered what that has to do with Hartland in the Civil War. Readers will probably be as surprised as I was to learn that Hartland is credited with sending three men to the 54th. Austin Hazard, Sylvester Mero and Henry Parks were mustered in on January 22, 1864, so they would not have been involved in the events described above. They served until August 1865, a few months after the war ended. Hazard was a butcher and


thirty-two years old when he enlisted. Nineteen-year-old Mero was listed as a farmer and as having been born in Woodstock. Less is known about Parks and he is not on the Vermont in the Civil War roster for Hartland, but his name is in the March 1864 Hartland Town Report. These three ‘volunteers’ were among thirty-six who received $500 bounties that year. It is not always easy to determine from the roster who was from Hartland as men often enlisted in neighboring towns or even traveled to towns desperate to fill their quota and offering higher bounties. [The recruiting posters for the 54th in Boston were offering $100 bounties.] The three enlistees in the 54th may have been part of a black community that existed in Woodstock. The Vermont in the Civil War website indicates that there were over seven hundred African Americans living in Vermont in 1860. One hundred and forty-nine served in the Union Army.

Men credited to Hartland who enlisted in late 1863 or early 1864 by unit

3rd Vt. Inf. Reg.

Dana Boyd

Almeron Burnham*

David Churchill

Richard Smith

5th Vt. Inf. Reg.

Moses Lafayette

Joseph Mayo***

1st Vt. Light Artillery Battery

Daniel Clough

John Cutler

U. S. Sharpshooters
Charles Fairbanks 

6th Vt. Inf. Reg.

Henry Carlisle

Charles Cleveland

Harry Durphey

William Durphey

David Elkins

Josiah Elkins

William Elkins

James Emery

Ira Hadlock

Stephen Huntley

Joseph Jones**

Benjamin Rickand

Horace Sargent

Roger Sargent

George Sartwell

Heaton Skinner

Henry Tilden

7th Vt. Inf. Reg.

John Cook

Francis Hale

9th Vt. Inf. Reg.

David Barber

George Mitchell

Ransom White

11th VT. Inf. Reg.

Benjamin Hill

Elisha Spaulding

54th Mass. Inf. Reg.

Austin Hazard

Sylvester Mero

Henry Parks

* Died of disease 2/17/1864
** Died 2/18/1864
*** Joseph Mayo was the only one of the nine-months men to re-enlist at this time.

After serving two years in the 6th Vt. Regiment, Perry Lamphere re-enlisted 12/15/1863 and died of disease      1/1/1864.

The  Gettysburg  Address

November 19, 1863

The short speech President Lincoln gave at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg is well known and regarded as one of the most important moments in American history. There is no need to report on it here, except as it relates to the theme of this installment. In the speech, Lincoln articulated why, because of the war’s terrible cost and suffering, it was then important to strive to create a better and freer nation than had existed before the war.


From  Hartland  Historical  Society  Newsletter  Readers

We received a nice letter and copies of family “treasures” from Marion Rodgers Howard of Florida. She makes a claim that I doubt few could match. Marion remembers meeting her Civil War veteran grandfather! In her words, “I wonder how many living adults can call a Civil War veteran ‘Grandpa’? My Grandpa, William Wallace Rodgers, died in 1926. I was born to his oldest son Walter Rodgers in 1923. I remember Grandpa at our family Thanksgiving in Temple, N.H., in 1926 slightly before his death.”

Marion sent along a 1911 picture of 14 members of the Rodgers family, including her father and grandfather. She also sent two good pictures of Civil War camps. Unfortunately, they are not identified. A very old picture of her great-uncle Charlie was of special interest to me. I described in the second installment of Hartland in the Civil War that his tombstone in the Weed Cemetery caught my attention soon after we moved to Weed Road nearly 40 years ago. The stone indicated that Charles Rodgers was with the 12th Regiment Vermont Volunteers and that he died at the age of 18. I didn’t know he died of disease in a Virginia camp after only one month in the Army until I started this project. I never dreamed that I would someday know what the young man looked like.

The Rodgers brothers lived near the “Cream Pot,” as did their cousins Augustine and Daniel, and all were in Co. B of the 12th Infantry Regiment. Howland Atwood writes that William returned to the farm after the war and lived there many years. William is buried in the Village Cemetery. Augustine, the same age as Charlie, died in the 1890s and is buried in the Weed Cemetery. Daniel at 22 was the oldest of the four when they enlisted. He lived the longest. My records indicate that before he died in 1931 at the age of 91, and he probably was the last living Civil War veteran from Hartland. Daniel is buried in Morrisville.

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Carol McArthur Rumrill supplied information about her and Deana McArthur Dana’s great-grandfather, Johnson Ames McArthur. He was living in Vershire when he enlisted in the 15th Vermont Infantry at age 22. His service as a “nine months” man was from October 22, 1862, to August 5, 1863. Howard Coffin in Nine Months to Gettysburg writes that the role of the 15th in the Gettysburg Campaign was similar to that of the 12th, which included most of the Hartland “nine months” men.

In late June 1863, General George Stannard was leading the five regiments of the 2nd Vermont Brigade from the Virginia camps north to Pennsylvania. After a week-long march, they reached Pennsylvania where a commander ordered General Stannard to post two of his regiments to guard the Corps’ wagon trains. The 12th and 15th stayed with the wagons while the 13th, 14th, and 16th continued on to the battlefield. Later in the day, Major General Daniel Sickles, commanding the Third Corps, which was also heading north, came upon the Vermonters and thought there were too many fine-looking soldiers guarding the wagon train. He brashly ordered the 15th to join his command and proceed to Gettysburg. Reportedly, the men gave a rousing cheer when they learned they would be joining the battle. The 15th joined the other Second Brigade regiments very early on the second day of battle. Just in time for break- fast, supply wagons had moved to the front line under the cover of darkness to feed the men they knew to be short of rations. Two companies were ordered to guard the ammunition wagons at Rock Creek Church,  2-½ miles away. The rest of the 15th marched over 20 miles back to Westminster, Maryland, to join the 12th Regiment guarding the Corps’ wagon trains, made up of hundreds of wagons and hundreds of cattle.


After the war, Johnson McArthur settled in Hartland, moving to the brick house on the Quechee Road where George and Carol Little have lived for many years. Mr. McArthur died in 1902 and is buried in the Village Cemetery. McArthur Brook runs through the former McArthur farm under the Quechee Road, Route 5, I-91, and the railroad to fall over Bish Bash Falls and into the Connecticut River.

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Hartland Historical Society Board Member Diane Bibby gave me a newspaper death notice describing her great-great uncle’s life.  It is titled “Big Pete Aubrey’s Death.”

Mr. Aubrey was born in Rouse’s Point, New York, of French descent, his grandfather having come to this country before the Revolution. His ancestors were all fighters in various   wars. He learned the blacksmith’s trade, which he pursued in Rouse’s Point and later Malone. He married in 1851 when he was 18 years old. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in Co. G of the 98th New York. Aubrey went through the Peninsula Campaign, taking part in the battles at Williamsburg and Yorktown, where he was slightly wounded in the head by buckshot. Then came Fair Oaks, Chickahominy, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, and the Seven Days fight. When his term of enlistment was up, he returned home to his trade. In 1863 he moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he obtained government work. In October he again enlisted, joining Co. G of the 2nd Regiment Heavy Artillery. The company was first stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and then sent to Fort William on the Roanoke River in North Carolina. The fort was attacked by 30,000 rebels on April 17, 1864. For three days the rebels were held at bay, but on the 20th the Union troops were obliged to surrender. They were put aboard a freight train, packed into the cars like cattle, and taken to Andersonville prison camp in Georgia.

Mr. Aubrey was a strong, robust, hardy man when he went to war, but he was so weakened by the privation he suffered in prison that he was not able to work or accomplish much after the war. He got by on a pension of only $16 a month, despite what he had offered his country. He was too little appreciated or honored in life, given that service. He was a member of the Grand Army Post and Anderson Survivors Association. Leaving a wife and nine children, he died on January 6, 1897.

Les’s note: In his book, Civil War, Bruce Catton writes that early in the war there were few prisoner-of-war camps. Both sides paroled prisoners or just swapped equal numbers of men. This arrangement ended after the Emancipation Act, which encouraged slaves to run away to the North where they would be put to work or enlisted in the Union Army. The Confederacy did not recognize runaway slaves as Union soldiers. Both sides established POW camps where conditions were generally terrible. Andersonville was the most notorious; one in three died there from disease or malnutrition. Many survivors were plagued with poor health the rest of their lives.

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Hartland Historical Society Webmaster, Brad Hadley of South Berwick, Maine, initially indicated he didn’t have any Hartland ancestors in the Civil War, even though there are many Hadleys buried in Hartland. (He said his ancestors had a way of avoiding such things.) After checking the Civil War records in the National Archives, however, he found the file of James Hadley, who was born in Hartland in 1834 and joined the 3rd Regiment of Vermont Volunteers on June 1, 1861, to be mustered in on July 16.  He had been living in West Windsor prior to 1860 and he is credited to Windsor. He was the son of Wells G. Hadley, who lived near the upper end of Weed Road.   He was Brad’s great-great uncle.


James Hadley went to Camp Lyon across the Potomac from Washington. His unit then went to Langley, Virginia, for the winter, where many soldiers fell ill. James died in a Georgetown hospital on March 20, 1862, just days before the 3rd Regiment sailed for Fortress Monroe to prepare for the Peninsula Campaign. James Hadley’s name appears on his parents’ gravestone in the Hartland Village Cemetery, but it’s not clear if his body was shipped here. He could have been buried in a mass grave at Georgetown.

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I welcome any accounts of Civil War veterans in your families and will continue to devote a separate section in the newsletters to them. Send info to Les Motschman, 193 Weed Road, Windsor, VT  05089 (or to susanmaple@juno.com.)

Special thanks to Pat Richardson for her excellent editing, greatly improving my writing and to Susan for her contributions in the typing, layout and finished product of these installments.

Les Motschman


Hartland in the Civil War – Part 6


Sixth Installment, May, 2014

By Les Motschman

In the last installment of this series, I concluded the discussion of Hartland men who served as “nine-months men” in the 2nd Vermont Infantry Brigade. The brigade was made up of five 1,000-man regiments. Most Hartland men were in the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment, but some were in the 16th. When the nine-months’ term of enlistment was up, these regiments were disbanded.

It is time now to turn our attention back to what Hartland men were doing in the regiments that made up the 1st Vermont Infantry Brigade, also known as the “Old Brigade.” In the first installment of Hartland in the Civil War, I described the formation of the first six regiments of the brigade. The first brigade was made up of active town militia members, under a long-standing law limited to three months’ Federal service. These men were quickly sent to Virginia, but when they returned after three months the regiment was disbanded.

Then the law was changed, and regiments two through six were made up mostly of volunteers who enlisted for three years. Men in these regiments went to camp in Virginia. In the spring of 1862 they participated in the Peninsula Campaign, a failed attempt to capture the Confederate capital, Richmond. As these 1st brigade regiments were ongoing entities, they needed a continuing supply of new recruits to replace soldiers who were either killed or wounded in battle or who died or were disabled by disease.

The 1st Vermont Infantry Brigade was the only brigade in the Army of the Potomac made up of men from a single state. It was not the policy of the government to brigade regiments of one state together. The thought was that if a particular unit suffered heavy losses, it would be best if the casualties were not concentrated in one geographic area. Also, it was supposed that a brigade made up of regiments from different states would benefit from positive rivalries when each regiment wanted to prove it was the best. I have been introducing Hartland men as they joined a regiment and noted when men died of disease or were discharged with a disability. In the last installment, I named thirty-six men who enlisted from Hartland. Over half joined the 6th Vermont Infantry Regiment.

At this point in the War 150 years ago, twelve Hartland men had died of disease or service-related causes. Fifteen were discharged with disabilities. No one had been killed in action, unless one counts Hartland native Charles Ballou who was killed at Fredericksburg with the 5th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment. That will soon change.

The  Overland  Campaign

The Darkest Days of the War for Hartland Families

The 1st Vermont Brigade spent the winter of 1863-1864 at Brandy Station in Northern Virginia. The weather was generally fine. The health of the troops was good. Picket duty was light, and the drilling not severe. The main topic of discussion in camp was whether or not to re-enlist. The government offered bounties and furloughs to veterans who had served two years or more. More than 1,000 men re-enlisted for three years or the duration of the war. Throughout that winter, an increasing number of rebel deserters came into camp. The Union troops were encouraged by the reports of a shortage of rations and supplies in the Confederate camps.


The armies, which had grappled for nearly three years, would soon go at it again in what would become the bloodiest struggle of the war. President Lincoln had finally found the commander he’d been looking for, when General U. S. Grant took command of the Army of the Potomac in early March. Soon after Grant arrived at Brandy Station, he made it known that he would be leading the Army from the field, not from some remote headquarters. The troops knew that he meant business, and would push them hard. His reputation from successful campaigns on the western front indicated he would not back down if persevering could lead to success.  Grant might not foolishly send his men to slaughter, but he was not afraid to take casualties if there were a chance of causing greater pain to Confederate forces. While his tactics would eventually win the war, Vermonters in the 1st Brigade would pay a steep price. For the first time Hartland families started to receive an alarming number of notices of men wounded or killed in battle.

On the third of May, General Grant took the initiative and moved the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River. They proceeded to what is known as The Wilderness, an area of scrub trees and tangled vines where General Hooker had been defeated a year earlier. Two earlier attempts to reach Richmond by the overland route had failed.

General Grant did not want to fight in The Wilderness, and he was trying to move the army through it on two parallel roads. General Lee very much wanted to engage the Union Army in the vast thicket of The Wilderness. The poor visibility and difficulty of movement would somewhat offset the Union’s advantage in its superior size. The Confederate Army was advancing toward the Federals on two roads three miles apart that would intersect the roads traveled by the Union Army at right angles. Lee’s plan was to attack the strung-out Union Army in its middle, and drive what he could not destroy or capture back across the Rapidan River as he had a year before. The 100,000-man Army of the Potomac could not move any faster than the thousands of wagons that made up the supply train trailing it. The two huge armies were about to collide in the middle of The Wilderness, and the 1st Vermont Brigade was posted at a critical intersection.

In his book The Battered Stars, Howard Coffin writes that the deadliest day in the history of the State of Vermont began at home-and in the fields and tangled woods of Northern Virginia-with a brilliant sunrise on a warm and beautiful spring morning. In West Windsor on May 5, 1864, Jabez Hammond pronounced the day warm and pleasant and passed it plowing with a pair of oxen. In the war zone, the Vermonters serving under General George Washington Getty were massed near the Old Wilderness Tavern awaiting orders. When the high command realized that the vital intersection of the Orange Plank Road and Brock Road was largely undefended against A. P. Hill’s advancing Confederate corps, Getty was ordered to take a division of just three brigades there to support the cavalry that was already falling back, and to hold the crossroads at all cost.

Getty’s division, which included nearly 3,000 Vermonters, was to hold the intersection until General Hancock could get there with his second corps and bolster its defense. Getty’s men piled up logs and fencing to create a defensive position in case of attack. General Hancock, riding ahead of his men, found Getty and reassured him that help was on the way. Unfortunately, from his vantage point on a knoll near the Wilderness Tavern, an impatient Ulysses Grant feared an imminent assault on the crossroads and ordered Getty to go forward and attack without waiting for help. The Vermonters were the first to move and entered the forest, thick with small trees, dense underbrush, and tangling vines. The men made slow, steady progress and no skirmishers were met-they had withdrawn. Suddenly the forest in front of them exploded all along the line in an intense volley of muskets. The rifle balls cut through the brush, and many men were hit two or three times before they fell. Hundreds of men fell in that first volley, but those still able quickly returned fire.


The battle was on and it lasted for hours. Getty ordered the Vermonters back to the defensive works they had created earlier. This was a far safer position from which to battle the advancing Confederate forces at least until Hancock’s men arrived as reinforcements. As the thicket filled with smoke, the enemy was mostly unseen. The new arrivals thought they were on the front of the battle line, so when their men started to fall they opened fire, shooting some of the Vermonters in front of them. The surviving men of the 1st Vermont Brigade quickly moved through Hancock’s troops to the rear.

After a night spent trying to recover the wounded from the dense thicket, both armies attacked at first light on May 6th. The Vermont Brigade advanced directly down the Orange Plank Road and again engaged A. P. Hills’ Confederate corps. On this day the Vermonters were part of a 25,000-man Federal assault led by General Hancock that pushed the rebels a mile down the road nearly to Lee’s headquarters. The Union forces moved over the battleground where they had fought on the fifth. Their dead comrades still lay there.

The fighting was at least as intense as the day before, but the Vermont Brigade caught a break-they were at the rear of the assault. Then fresh Confederate troops arrived, and Lee ordered a counter-attack that drove Hancock’s men back. The Vermonters had taken a defensive position behind logs piled up the day before by the rebels. As Hancock’s troops streamed by in retreat, the Vermonters found themselves at the point of a “V” where they had to repel attack after attack by the rebels. The logs provided good protection, though, and casualties were only a quarter of the previous day’s.

The Blue and the Gray grappled all day. Grant kept pouring men into the battle. Thousands of men fell. Neither side won; the fighting just stopped. The Vermont Brigade was only one of thirty-two infantry brigades at the Wilderness, yet it suffered 10 percent of the casualties.

Previous commanders of the Army of the Potomac would have withdrawn for the men to get some rest and be resupplied. With more than 10,000 casualties, the wounded needed tending to, and the dead to be buried. Grant ordered his army to move to the open countryside around Spotsylvania Court House. He knew Lee would perceive this move as a threat to Richmond, forcing him to rally his battered army and engage the Federals again much sooner than he would prefer. By May 8th, the opposing armies, which had moved along parallel roads, were creating defensive works by digging trenches and piling up logs. The four-mile Confederate line took the shape of an inverted “V.” On May 10th the Vermont Brigade participated in a bayonet charge against the line. They took the enemy’s position and held it for hours, but for lack of support they were called back. May 12th saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the war at what became known as the “Bloody Angle.” For sixteen hours on that foggy, rainy day, thousands of Federal troops including the Vermont 3rd and 6th Regiments assaulted the rebel breastworks at the apex of the inverted “V.”

Grant intended to fight it out at Spotsylvania, figuring Lee’s losses would cause him to surrender or withdraw and open the way toward Richmond. But Confederate reinforcements kept arriving, causing Grant to decide to move south on May 20th. By June 1 the Union force was digging in at Cold Harbor. Since the start of the Wilderness campaign, Union losses had nearly equaled Lee’s total force, but replacements kept arriving. The First Artillery, 11th Vermont Regiment, had joined the Vermont Brigade. At 1,500 men, it was the largest Vermont regiment. The total number of men fit for duty in the Brigade’s original five regiments was down to only 1,200.

Grant wanted to try to finish off the Confederate Army in a massive attack before the rebels could get too well established on their line, but his generals convinced him the troops were just too exhausted and


needed to be resupplied before an attack could be mounted. Grant relented and postponed his move one day, a decision he always regretted. By June 3rd thousands more rebel troops had arrived, and the trenches had been deepened. The massive Union assault lasted less than an hour before Grant called it off.

There were several thousand Union casualties. The 3rd Vermont Regiment, on the frontline of the assault, lost one-third of its remaining force. The 10th Vermont Regiment was at Cold Harbor where it suffered more casualties than in all its previous engagements. The 6th Vermont Regiment was engaged for twelve days in sporadic fighting.

You may remember from a previous installment that a Major Crandall of the Sixth, home on leave a year before Cold Harbor, told a friend how exhilarating it was to serve in battle under General Sedgwick at Fredericksburg. Crandall was killed at Cold Harbor by a rebel sharpshooter. Sedgwick had already been killed at Spotsylvania by a sharpshooter.

In 2006, this 8-foot long, 17-ton monument of Barre granite was placed on the Wilderness Battlefield where Vermonters fought. Camel’s Hump is replicated on the top. The inscription reads

“The Vermont Brigade – In these woods, during the battle of The Wilderness on May 5 and 6, 1864, Vermont’s ‘Old Brigade’ suffered 1,234 casualties while defending the Brock Road
and Orange Plank Road intersection”

Howard Coffin was instrumental in lobbying for preservation of this portion of The Wilderness
and for memorialization of the Vermonters who fought there.


The fighting continues through the summer and fall, but I will end this installment’s narrative with the death on the battlefield of Captain Oliver Cushman, whom I consider Hartland’s most noteworthy soldier. I’ve mentioned before that the Cushmans were a well-to-do family that lived on what is now known as the Hoisington Farm. The Cushman family in America goes all the way back to Plymouth Plantation. Holmes Cushman came to Hartland after the Revolutionary War. He had four grandsons and one great-grandson in the Civil War. Oliver Cushman left Dartmouth to join the 1st Regiment of Vermont Cavalry as it was being organized in 1861.

In the spring of 1864, the 1st Vermont Cavalry was operating so close to Richmond that they could see its light in the night sky. When not fighting, the Cavalry was often employed in destroying railroads and bridges. One night, moving down a road they encountered artillery shells buried in the road with trip wires that a horse’s hooves would trigger. They forced rebel prisoners to crawl along the roadway searching for more. The pace slowed, but a dozen more shells were found. In late May they were embroiled in a series of sharp engagements in what was a prelude to the grinding clashes between the main forces at Cold Harbor. On May 31 Captain Cushman’s squadron was assigned to destroy a pair of railroad viaducts. The trestle-supported bridges were burned down. The next couple of days were quiet and the troops rested. June 3 would be forever remembered for a catastrophic loss of life. General Grant ordered an all-out offensive at Cold Harbor, and 7,000 Union troops fell in less than an hour. The 1st Vermont Cavalry was on the extreme left flank of the attack at a place called Hawe’s Shop. The Vermonters moved across level ground and came up against Fitz Lee’s troops entrenched in rifle pits. They engaged the rebels from a prone firing position. Colonel Addison Preston from Danville crawled to the front to reconnoiter. After he made his observations and he turned to go back, he inexplicitly rose to his feet. Colonel Preston was instantly shot and killed. Seconds later Captain Cushman was fatally wounded. Gone at the age of twenty-three he, like Preston, was universally mourned by the men of the 1st Vermont Cavalry. Some believe the disfiguring facial wound he received at Gettysburg left him careless about his personal safety. He was considered one of the finest young men in the regiment, known for his valor and leadership.  He is buried in the Village Cemetery. Both the HHS museum and the Vermont State Museum next to the Vermont State House display a framed memorial to Captain Cushman and his Company.

Les’s note:  To learn about the Overland Campaign, I have relied on Howland Atwood’s HHS work of  fifty years ago and Howard Coffin’s 2002 book The Battered Stars. I also have what was Coffin’s primary source: Vermont in the Civil War by Vermont’s official Civil War historian, George Grenville Benedict. This two-volume 1,200-page work was published in 1886. HHS member Sandra Palmer recently purchased the set and graciously loaned it to me for this project. I found the 1st Vermont Cavalry’s regimental history in the Vermont Historical Society’s library in Barre.

Thanks again to Pat Richardson for her helpful editing and Susan Motschman for the typing and layout.


Hartland  Casualties

Spring, 1864

KIA – killed in action
MWIA – mortally wounded in action
WDD – wounded
DD – died of disease
POW – prisoner of war
Churchill, David         3rdregt.        WDD     5/6/64
Cleveland, Charles C.    6th             KIA     5/18/64
Cushman, Clarence        1st VT CAV      MWIA    5/5/64
Cushman, Oliver T.       1st VT CAV      KIA     6/3/64
Cutler, John A.          1st VLAB        DD      6/9/64
Dana, Judah W.           3rd regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Davis, Hiram             3rd regt.       POW     6/15/64
Durphey, Harry           6th regt.       MWIA    5/5/64
Durphey, William H.      6th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Fairbanks, Charles D.   U. S. Sharpshooters   WDD   5/31/64
Green, Peter             3rd regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Hadlock, Ira A.          6th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Huntley, Stephen S.      6th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Hutchinson, Ira E.       10th regt.      MWIA    6/3/64
Lafayette, Moses M.      5th regt.       KIA     5/12/64
Leonard, Edgar H.        11th regt.      MWIA    6/23/64
Leonard, Thomas F.       3rd regt.       WDD     7/10/63, 5/6/64 and 5/12/64
Mayo, Joseph             5th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Rickard, Benjamin F.     6th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Sabine, John             3rd regt.       KIA     5/5/64
Sargent, Horace          6th regt.       WDD     5/5/64
Sartwell, George E.      6th regt.       WDD     5/10/64
Spaulding, Elisha H.     11th regt.      POW     6/23/64
Temple, John J.          17th regt.      WDD     5/6/64
Thompson, Eldridge       3rd regt.       WDD     5/14/64
Tilden, Henry            6th regt.       KIA     5/5/64

Of the thirty-six men who enlisted at Hartland in late 1863 or early 1864, half became casualties in the spring of 1864.


From a Hartland Historical Society Newsletter Reader

Since the last installment, I received only one submission from a HHS member concerning their Civil War ancestor. Donald Whelpley from Naperville, Illinois wrote a long letter full of interesting information pertaining to his great-grandfather Cyrus Ransom Bagley. Cyrus was born in Hartland on December 20, 1847 to Perkins Bagley and Mary Rodgers. His grandfather Thomas Bagley settled in town around 1788 and two or three generations later there were numerous Bagleys living in town. Thomas was known for having seven grandsons serve in the Civil War, six of them from Hartland. Cyrus enlisted as a “nine months” man in August, 1862, a few months before his fifteenth birthday-well shy of the required age of eighteen. Like most Hartland men, he was assigned to Co. B of the 12th Vt. Inf. Reg.

Mr. Whelpley provides some details about relationships among some of the men in Co. B. Since Cyrus’s mother is a Rodgers, he is no doubt related to the two sets of Rodgers brothers from the Cream Pot area. After the “nine-months” men return home in the summer of 1863, James Sleeper marries Ferdinand Fallon’s sister Mary. A year later, sixteen-year-old Cyrus marries James’s sister Jennie Sleeper; and two weeks later, James and Cyrus are mustered into the 1st Vermont Cavalry. Winter was spent in camp, but by early spring the cavalry was active as the war was moving to a conclusion. Richmond had fallen and General Grant was determined that General Lee not be allowed to reform his army as he had done before. The 1st Vermont Cavalry was serving under General George A. Custer’s command, and they took part in the running battle across Virginia trying to corner General Lee. At Appomattox Station they were engaged in a battle to capture the Confederate supply train. Cyrus Bagley was shot in the left shoulder on what was essentially the last day of the war, as General Lee surrendered the next day. Cyrus spent six weeks in a Baltimore hospital. The shoulder bothered Cyrus the rest of his life.

When Cyrus’s first child was born in 1869, he named him George Custer Bagley. Cyrus died in 1911 and he and Jennie are buried in the Village Cemetery. His father, Perkins Bagley, was a veteran of the War of 1812 and is buried in the Gallup Cemetery on Weed Road. His grandfather, Thomas Bagley, was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and is buried in the Weed Cemetery (He married a Weed.).

In his latest book, Something Abides, Discovering the Civil War in Today’s Vermont, Howard Coffin mentions that Cyrus Bagley lived in the old house on the Brownsville Road, about half-way between Weed Road and Jenneville Road.

Mr. Whelpley sent along a family photo of thirteen Bagleys and Whelpleys. Based on the birthdates of the young children, Mr. Whelpley dates the picture from 1907. After reading about Cyrus going to war at fifteen, marrying and returning to the war at age sixteen, it is interesting to see a picture of him as an old man. Mr.Whelpley said the family didn’t know where the picture was taken, but it was clear to me that the house in the background is the brick house on the corner of Route 5 and Martinsville Road (Lamb schoolhouse). My grandparents and my mother lived there in the 1940’s. In the photo, the family is gathered in the yard of the house across Route 5 on the corner of Rice Road. Not long after the picture was taken, the Whelpleys moved to Wisconsin and later to Illinois.


Miscellaneous Items Concerning the War and Other Observations

Early 1864

In the last installment, I wrote at length about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored) and the memorial dedicated to that unit created by Augustus Saint Gaudens.  On my next trip to Boston, I hoped to find a firsthand account of the Regiment’s day in Boston before it boarded ships to go off to war in South Carolina. Reliving my college days, I spent an afternoon at the Boston Public Library looking at The Boston Post newspapers on microfilm. The main thing I learned was that the 54th arrived in Boston by train. I assumed an infantry regiment would have traveled the few miles from its training ground west of the city on foot. The regiment marched from the depot to the Common along streets lined with cheering crowds. They halted on Beacon Street in front of the State House, where the monument now stands depicting the soldiers passing that very spot. Thousands of people were on the Common where the regiment was reviewed by Governor Andrew. At conclusion, they marched down State Street to Battery Wharf.

A roll of microfilm contains months of newspapers. I scanned papers from February through June of 1864. The Boston Post was eight pages. The front page was covered with mostly small business ads offering goods or services and a lengthy editorial type piece, usually with a patriotic theme. Inside were columns devoted to news of the war with daily dispatches from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and New Orleans. The following excerpts caught my eye. Many are from a daily column with the heading “Dispatches and Rumors.”

  • 2/1/1864 A Company of soldiers were on the way from Washington to Alexandria atop freight cars when Sgt. James Hamilton of Vermont got on top of the cars to tell the men to lie down. Hamilton himself was struck and killed instantly.
  • The daily Marine Journal reported on the arrivals and departures of numerous ships. It also reported “disasters” and the whereabouts of whalers. In December several New Bedford whalers were in Honolulu transferring hundreds of barrels of oil to a ship that would take it to the mainland.
  • 2/7/1864 Some people doubt the draft, but a suspected call from the President before the 4th of July will make thousands of our noisiest war orators finger their pocketbooks or write checks to procure their exemption.
  • 4/22/1864 Army of the Potomac – Last week $130,000 was stolen between Aquia Creek and Washington. The money was in separate packages and belonged to the soldiers who were forwarding it to their families. A number of paymasters have arrived recently and an immense amount of money has been sent home by the men.
  • 4/23/1864 Soldiers in the vicinity of Corinth, Mississippi are marrying the females thereabouts with the limitation added to the contract “while the war lasts.”
  • 4/24/1864 The Richmond papers laugh at Gen. Hooker’s observation balloons and so do Union Army officers.
  • 4/29/1864 When Gen. Butler was at Fortress Monroe, he was puzzled to discover how men got so outrageously and regularly drunk. It was observed that the men seemed to always hold their guns up straight. Upon examination, it was found that every gun barrel was filled with whiskey.

Les Motschman


PTA Dance 1940

This picture is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. It was taken in 1940 and is credited to  Marion Post Wolcott, 1910-1990, photographer.









1940 Snow Storm

This picture is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. It was taken in 1940 and is credited to  Marion Post Wolcott, 1910-1990, photographer.

This is the Cowdrey’s house.

Hartland in the Civil War – Part 2


(Second Installment, Jan. 2013)

by Les Motschman

This is the second installment of my attempt to follow Hartland men serving in the Civil War 150 years ago. As I explained in the first installment, this effort is based largely on Howland Atwood’s 1963 “Hartland in the Civil War.” He assembled a roster of Hartland men who served and described where their units were during the war. I also use several other sources, including information sent in by newsletter subscribers. I welcome personal information about your ancestors who served, as I want to make the connection to modern-day people who are living here or maybe grew up here. As you will read, I’ve so far made connections with some of today’s Hartland families, including the Bowers, Davis, French, Hatch, Howland, Lobdell, Tessier, and White families.

My first installment was concerned with the five regiments that made up the 1st Vermont Brigade, also known as the Old Vermont Brigade, including 17 volunteers from Hartland. [A brigade typically consisted of five one-thousand-man regiments.] This issue is concerned primarily with the formation of the 2nd Vermont Brigade, made up of Regiments 12 through 17. There were no Hartland men in the 13th, 14th, or 15th Regiments so I’ll write mostly about the 12th and 16th.

In the second half of 1862, over 70 men from Hartland entered the Army. Hartland men weren’t involved in much fighting in the fall of 1862, but the recruiting and filling the ranks of the 2nd Vermont Brigade so quickly is an interesting story in itself.  This issue concludes with the massive battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862 between the Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac under new commander General Ambrose Burnside.

First, I want to recognize a few Hartland men who enlisted in Vermont regiments that were not part of the 1st or 2nd Brigades.  Most, but not all, Hartland men served in Virginia.  Henry H. Hastings enlisted in the 7th Regiment in February 1862 and served for five years. The 7th Vermont sailed from New York City to the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans remained under Federal control throughout the war, but the Confederates controlled the fortifications on the bluffs at Vicksburg, Mississippi, which prevented the Union from using the river to move men and supplies to the Western Front of the war. The 7th participated in the Siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1862, which was a series of failed attempts to take Vicksburg.


It was also at Baton Rouge when it was attacked by rebel forces trying to retake that part of the river. By the end of the year, the 7th removed to Pensacola, Florida. James Hutchinson also enlisted in the 7th in February 1862, but within a few weeks he died of disease. He is buried in the Plains Cemetery. Alonzo Martin joined the 7th in February 1862 from Woodstock and was discharged with a disability in June 1863. He represented the second of three generations to run a shop just across the Martinsville bridge.

On September 1, 1862, five Hartland men joined the 10th Vermont Regiment as three-year men. They were George Colby, Charles E. Colston, Charles D. Humphrey, Ira E. Hutchinson, and Seneca Young. On the same day, Edgar H. Leonard joined the 11th Vermont.

A few names were omitted in the first installment of September 2012. George C. Chase was with the 3rd Vermont Regiment during the Peninsula Campaign.  Mr. Atwood did not mention Chase but includes him on the roster. Chase was discharged with a disability on July 29, 1862. David Wright was with the 6th Vermont Regiment during the Peninsula Campaign.

The First Regiment of Vermont Cavalry

In the first issue I mentioned that two members of the First Regiment of the Vermont Cavalry died in October 1862. This unit was organized in the fall of 1861 in Burlington. It set out for Washington on December 14, 1861, in 153 railroad cars. Mr. Atwood writes that such a grand cavalcade from Vermont was probably never seen before or since.

The first Hartland men in this unit were Oliver T. Cushman, Henry Holt, John Jelerson, Allen P. Messer, Benjamin F. Rogers, George Rumrill, and John H. Willard. Others joined in the ensuing years, including Clarence Cushman in September 1862. The twenty-year-old Oliver Cushman, a member of the Dartmouth class of 1863, enlisted as a sergeant (he would eventually be promoted to captain).  His brother Clarence enlisted when he turned eighteen.

Early in the war, Union cavalry were mainly used for reconnaissance duty, checking the terrain and conditions ahead of the infantry. They were also employed as messengers as they had the only means of rapid transit. The Confederates used the cavalry as raiders from the start of the war. They would dash in through the Union picket lines, raid supplies, and be gone before anyone could stop them.

Bruce Catton, in his book Civil War, writes that “for the first half of the war Southern cavalry was far superior to the Federals. Jeb Stuart’s troopers could have taught circus riders tricks. Not until 1863 was the Union cavalry able to meet Stuart on anything like even terms. Most Southern recruits came from rural areas and were used to horses. The legends of chivalry were powerful, so it seemed much more knightly and gallant to go off to war on horseback than in the infantry. The Confederate trooper rode to war on his own horse often of blooded stock. There were plenty of farm boys in the Federal armies, but they did not come from horseback country; most horses on Northern farms were draft animals.  Being well aware that it’s a lot of work to care for a horse, the Northern country boy generally enlisted in the infantry.”

The 1st Vermont Cavalry is credited with 75 engagements, mostly skirmishes, often with the opposing cavalry. Of the eight Hartland men in the 1st Vermont Cavalry in 1862, Messer was discharged with a disability May 22; Holt and Rogers died of disease on October 30, Rogers after release from a prisoner of war camp, and Rumrill was wounded August 29, presumably at the Battle of Second Bull Run and discharged with a disability on November 20. It must have been hard service, because without giving too much away, I will tell you that the other four men had very bad experiences before the war ended.

Two Hartland men from the 3rd Vermont Infantry Regiment transferred to the U.S. 5th Cavalry on October 30, 1862. George H. Barrows had just enlisted; Fred Blaisdell had joined in July 1861 and experienced the Peninsula Campaign and the Maryland Campaign.


Lincoln calls for 300,000 volunteers

After General George McClellan’s disastrous Peninsula Campaign with its high losses, and recognizing the need for more men in the Western Theater of the War, President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 asked the Union states for another 300,000 volunteers. Enthusiasm for the war had radically changed from a year earlier when men had flocked to enlist. Initially it was thought that the North with its larger population and far superior industrial base would be able to put down the rebellion of the mostly agrarian South rather quickly. Indeed, as is the case in any war, many young men rush to volunteer not wanting to miss out on what might be the adventure of their lives. After the first few months of fighting, it was clear that victory would come only at a great cost of men and matériel and might take years.

By mid-1862 the casualty lists published in local newspapers were growing, and crippled veterans had returned     home with tales of the horrors of war. Coffins were arriving as well, mostly of soldiers who succumbed to disease. Those who died in a large battle were more apt to be buried where they fell or in a cemetery created on the battlefield. Of the four Hartland men who had died by this time 150 years ago, three-Holt, Hutchinson, and Vaughan-are buried in Hartland cemeteries. Benjamin Rogers is buried in Washington, D.C.

Just as enthusiasm for the war was waning, the need for more men was growing. Vermont had finished raising the 10th and 11th regiments with three-year enlistees, and the militias were depleted. Lincoln asked the states to raise the troops because the Federal government did not have authority to draft men into service. On July 17, 1862, Congress passed a “Militia Law” declaring that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 were legally part of the militia. The law empowered the President to call the militia into Federal service for nine months. The War Department realized that most men with families and a farm or business were not eager to enlist for three years; thus, the creation of “Nine Months Men.”

Some of my information about the recruitment and deployment of Vermont’s 2nd Brigade comes from Howard Coffin’s book Nine Months to Gettysburg. Coffin calls his native Woodstock the “Pentagon of Vermont” in that Vermont’s war effort was run by Vermont’s Adjutant General, Peter Washburn, from a building on The Green. Washburn was a Woodstock native and a lawyer, and had led 500 Vermont troops of the 1st Regiment during the Peninsula Campaign.  Vermont’s quota was 4,898 men, and the Adjutant General’s office worked day and night to get the quotas out to all town officers, as it was their responsibility to furnish the men requested.

The Vermont Humanities Council’s weekly Civil War newsletter of September 7, 2012, notes countless town recruiting meetings held across the North. It describes a meeting in Windsor as being large and enthusiastic, packing the Town Hall while a large crowd gathered outside, vainly trying to learn of the success within. The Windsor Coronet Band enlivened the meeting with patriotic music. Patriotic speeches were made, and a number of citizens encouraged enlistments by generous donations. The men came forward, the quota was filled, and the meeting adjourned amid enthusiastic cheers.

As almost all the men enlisting were volunteers, I had assumed they were marching off to war to do their patriotic duty to try to save the Union. The U.S. Army paid them $12 to $14 a month. It wasn’t until I started this project that I saw the term “bounties.” It seems that towns appropriated money at Town Meetings to pay the men who enlisted. I attended a talk Howard Coffin gave last Fall about “Nine Months Men.” He told me bounties ranged from $50 to $1,000. Towns competed for recruits; most men would sign up in the town they lived in, but some would enlist in neighboring towns, especially if that town was paying higher bounties. Coffin said $300 was a typical bounty, but as the war wore on and still more troops were needed, men could receive two or three times that if towns were having trouble meeting their quotas. To put these dollars into perspective, a laborer at that time made a dollar a day, and Coffin said one could buy a farm for a thousand dollars.

I asked Hartland Town Clerk Clyde Jenne if we have minutes for Town Meetings in the 1860s. He said no, but I should look at the Town Reports. The February 1863 Hartland Town Report is only eight pages; all the soldiers are listed by name, grouped by how much bounty they were paid. The Nine Months Men received $100. For some


reason, men who enlisted for three years got only $50. Total orders drawn by the Selectmen that year amounted to about $6,200, and nearly $5,000 of that was to pay bounties. $3,100 was borrowed to pay the bounties. Clyde said the town went deeply into debt during the Civil War and did not finish paying off the debt until decades later.

Following is a list of men who enlisted in the fall of 1862. Members of the 12th and 16th were mostly Nine Months Men. The men who enlisted in the 1st Brigade regiments were generally three-year men. Men whose names are marked by asterisks (*) enlisted in nearby towns but were born and/or buried in Hartland.
hartland soldiers

The men who enlisted in the 2nd Vermont Brigade were transported by trains to Brattleboro where they were marched to a high plateau a mile from the station that was becoming Camp Lincoln. The 4th and 8th Vermont Regiments had already camped at Brattleboro on their way to war. With the large influx of new recruits coming, the early arrivals, including the 12th, were put to work building more barracks. In Nine Months to Gettysburg, Howard Coffin says the men were drilled hard but adjusted to camp life and were able to relax some in the evening and on weekends.

Coffin makes great use of personal first-hand accounts from the soldiers’ letters home.  He notes that our Private Benjamin Hatch of the 12th was troubled by soldier morality. The thirty-five-year-old Hatch was one of the older recruits. He wrote to his wife in Hartland: “Is as much as 20 playing cards and gambling every night….Last night I went along the line of camps, some were gambling, some were swearing, some were dancing and everything else you can think of.”


On October 7, 1862, the 12th Regiment was the first to leave Vermont for Washington. Since Coffin says most of the men had never been even to Massachusetts, it must have been interesting for them to see hundreds of miles of countryside and stop in the country’s major cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and then end up in sight of the Capitol. Like the soldiers in the 1st Brigade a year earlier, the 12th marched through Washington and camped at the fortifications near the Potomac. Within a few days they crossed the Potomac and marched to Camp Vermont where they would spend the winter.

Camp life consisted of drill, readying the shelters for winter and picket duty. Each day a portion of the men were marched out of camp to take up positions on the miles-long outer defense line of Washington. Coffin reports that when the soldiers had a day with no duty, many went to see the sights of Washington or visited Mount Vernon. Private Hatch wrote, “If we can go a little ways from our camp, we can look down into Alexandria and onto Washington and see the shipping on the Potomac. For miles it is quite a scenery.”

Reports are that some of the men suffered from the October heat in Virginia, but winter arrived early that year. Soon cold, rain, and snow were making life miserable in the camp. The many letters exchanged between the soldiers and their families back home confirm that more snow fell that winter on Camp Vermont than on the real Vermont. As usual for the camps, sickness among the soldiers was widespread.

Eighteen-year-old Charles Rodgers died of disease on November 3, 1862, just one month after mustering into the Army at Brattleboro. He was one of four young Rodgers from Cream Pot Road to enlist in the 12th Regiment that fall. I don’t claim descent from any of the Hartland Civil War veterans, but Charles seems like a neighbor. I visited his grave soon after moving to Weed Road over 35 years ago. For a long time, I didn’t know how long he had served or how he died. He is buried in Weed Cemetery next to his parents.

Reuben Lamphear died of disease on December 7, 1862. He is buried in the Plains Cemetery.

Howland Atwood’s notebook includes a collection of newspaper clippings from 1963 Rutland Heralds. It was running “100 years ago” columns. One states that, “The mortality rate in our armies in 1862 was 67.6 deaths per 1,000 men. Disease accounted for 50.4, wounds and injuries 17.2.”

Thanksgiving was celebrated heartily in the camps. President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, but celebrating on the last Thursday in November was already a well-established tradition. The Vermont Humanities Council newsletter describes that week in Camp Vermont through letters home from a member of the 12th Regiment who had been a machinist at the gun factory in Windsor. They were working on their “houses” built of stone, wood and canvas:

We have been very busy all day on our house. Two or three more days of good weather and we can move in. Thanksgiving has really begun here in this company. There arrived here tonight from West Windsor and other places one barrel and many boxes the size of boot boxes, you may guess there was something for everybody. The boys in this tent got a large quantity, so I guess I shall have something for Thanksgiving, as they are very generous. I will name a few things that came to friends. There was a half of cheese, four or five pounds of butter, about 2 gal. of applesauce, a baked chicken, a lot of cakes, about three pints of butternut meats, six pounds of maple sugar, a few chestnuts and a number of little things too numerous to mention. As far as I have heard, it all came through without hurting the least thing.

[I remember being amazed many years ago reading about a mother in Vermont roasting a turkey and the father boxing it up with some other things and taking it to the depot. The son in camp in Virginia received it two or three days later in good shape. The railroad didn’t come to Hartland until 1849. The building boom continued through the 1850s, and by the time the war started in 1861 the railroad system was pretty well established, so people, goods, and mail could travel much faster than just a of couple decades earlier.]

Christmas seems to have been observed in a more somber manner. The men had the day off except for essential duty, but they weren’t feasting or celebrating.


First Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 13, 1862

According to the Vermont Humanities Council newsletter, President Lincoln waited until the day after the 1862 mid-term elections to relieve General McClellan as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, timing the removal so as to not alienate Democrats. General McClellan said, “They have made a great mistake,” and ran against Lincoln two years later. General Ambrose Burnside reluctantly accepted command of the Army from Lincoln. General Burnside promptly submitted a plan for a direct move on Fredericksburg, and then south to Richmond. It was important to occupy the heights above the town before General Lee’s army arrived. The bridge across the Rappahannock River had been destroyed, so pontoon equipment was immediately ordered to be brought from Harper’s Ferry where it was being used. The river could have been forded, but Burnside was afraid the water might rise and separate his 120,000 soldiers. By the time the bridge was ready, General Lee was waiting on the heights with 113,000 men. Fredericksburg was now nothing but a trap.

The Union army was divided into three divisions led by Generals Edwin “Bull” Sumner, Joseph Hooker, and William Franklin. The Vermonters in the 1st Vermont Brigade (Regiments 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6) were under the command of General Franklin, whose division was on the left of the battle line. Cold weather arrived long before the pontoons did, bringing rain, snow, and general discomfort. Burnside waited and Lee watched. The Confederates were on the western hills known as Marye’s Heights, where their guns commanded the flat land below as well as the town.

On December 11, 1862, the Union army started to cross the river. Franklin’s troops found little opposition, but General Sumner’s division on the right had a difficult crossing. Rebel sharpshooters mowed down the bridge builders.

In heavy fog on the morning of December 13th, Burnside’s assault commenced. The three divisions groped through the fog across the road and railroad tracks along the river. When the fog lifted, the Confederates saw waving flags and the gleam of tens of thousands of bayonets. J.E.B. Stuart’s artillery poured heavy fire into the Union left flank. The Union batteries across the river joined the battle, silencing the Confederate fire. Under cover of their own guns, Franklin’s army heaved forward into woods at their front, only to meet short-range small arms fire from Southern infantry embedded in the thicket. The whole Union force was pushed back onto the plain. All afternoon the fighting raged back and forth, and the day ended with the Union and Confederate positions the same as at the beginning.

General Sumner’s division on the right had it even worse. As those men moved up the open land below Marye’s Heights, the Confederate guns there opened fire. At 200 yards the Confederate infantry opened fire from the sunken road and stone wall, and three Federal brigades in succession melted away. The Confederates were four deep behind that wall. Still more men were sent up the hill. Hooker’s division was ordered into action. Burnside was adamant: “That height must be carried this evening.”

It never was. Fourteen gallant attacks were made that day. Thank God Franklin was beyond Burnside’s reach. Between the hostile lines, 12,500 fallen Union soldiers lay dead or wounded in a succession of ghastly windrows, 6,000 of them in front of Marye’s Hill. Lee’s losses were about 5,300 in all. One brigade left behind 545 men in the frozen mud. The wounded lay for up to 48 hours in the freezing cold. Some burned to death where cannons set fire to long grass.

[The description of the battle is from Atwood’s notebook. He relies mainly on The Compact History of the Civil War to provide a narrative of the War where Vermonters were present.]

It was at Fredericksburg that General Lee, watching his troops wreak havoc on the Union Army, uttered this famous line: “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

Fredericksburg may have been the worst Union defeat of the war, but apparently no Hartland men were seriously hurt. Of course by my estimate they represented only two dozen of the 120,000-strong army. William Petrie of the 4th Regiment was discharged with a disability January 31, 1863, so it’s possible he was wounded there. At least one


Hartland native was killed during the battle. Twenty-eight year-old Charles Ballou was living in Claremont when he joined the 5th NH Infantry in October 1861. Ballou was a 1st Lieutenant by the time of Fredericksburg, so he may very well have died leading his men up the slope in front of the sunken road. Hartland resident, Greg Chase, a re-enactor for the 5th NH, says the regiment was in one of the early attacks toward the road and came as close to reaching it as any unit, but took heavy casualties and was beaten back.

The new troops of the 2nd Vermont Brigade were not at Fredericksburg, but they could hear the battle forty miles away. Soon they were starting to get reports of the terrible slaughter and defeat. This was met with a sense of dismay and disgust at the handling of the battle. As word spread, this was the reaction throughout the army and the North. General Burnside became known as “The Butcher of Fredericksburg.”

Incredibly, Burnside wanted to attack the next day, but his shocked and almost mutinous corps commanders talked him out of it. He was halted by President Lincoln’s firm order to take no action without informing him. Burnside blamed his generals for the failure. Franklin was replaced by General John Sedgwick after the battle. On January 25, 1863, Major General Joseph Hooker relieved Burnside as Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The term “sideburns” comes from his last name.


On a political note, after our long electioneering year of 2012, when some have said the country is more divided than at any time since the Civil War, and the President and Congress seem unable to accomplish anything, it was interesting to read political writer George Will’s last column of the year.

He wrote:

In 1862, the grim year of Shiloh [Antietam] and Fredericksburg, Congress would have been forgiven for concentrating only on preventing national dismemberment. Instead, while defiantly continuing construction of the Capitol dome, Congress continued nation building. It passed the Pacific Railroad Act [which led to the completion of the Trans-continental Railroad in 1869]. It passed the Morrill Act [named for Vermont Senator Justin Morrill] to build land-grant colleges emphasizing agriculture.

Most important, Congress passed the Homestead Act, which Will describes as the “first comprehensive immigration law.” The act was intended to attract immigrants from abroad who would put down roots. For this purpose it provided all the requirements for citizenship. For $18 in fees, a homesteader was entitled to 160 acres in the Great

Plains [then known as the Great American Desert]. After they farmed the land for five years, it would become theirs, and they could become citizens. The land was sparsely inhabited, mainly by Native Americans; and with so many citizens fighting, an Illinois congressman proclaimed that “noncitizens were needed to go upon these wild lands to increase the nation’s wealth.”


Family Connections

I surmise that the hundred men on the rosters must have hundreds of descendants born in Hartland. I will note some of the connections to families living in town now or within the last couple of decades. Mr. Atwood mentions several descendants of veterans, but his list ends a couple of generations ago. Some of you have provided me with your family connections to Civil War veterans and I hope you continue to do so.

  • First note that Horace Bradley, who was the first to go to the war from Hartland and served three months with the 1st Vermont Regiment as part of the militia call-up, re-enlisted in the 12th Vermont Regiment.
  • James H. Bowers enlisted from West Windsor. He was in Company A 12th Regiment with many of the Hartland men. His son Albert Bowers moved to Hartland. James H. Bowers’ grandson, Jimmy Bowers, Jimmy’s son Eric, and grandson Scott all live in Hartland.
  • John Colston was Company B musician, and in later years a well-known fiddler at dances. He was Hial Lobdell’s and Marion Lobdell White’s grandfather, so many of the Whites living in town are descendants (Tom, Dick, Bob, and Paul White, and Jean White Rugg and Nancy White Dow, and their families), plus Jan Lobdell Hewes.
  • Ozro and Oscar Davis were twins; great-granddaughter Connie Tessier is probably their best-known descendant still living in town. The Crowells and Stillsons trace their lineage to Oscar.
  • Ferdinand Fallon is an ancestor of the Frenches who lived in town when I was young. Mike French is a current resident.
  • Benjamin Hatch was Lillian (Hatch) Marcotte’s and Arthur Hatch’s grandfather. Marjorie (Hatch) Royce is also related.
  • The Marcy brothers were great uncles of Russ Perry who had a large family living in town.
  • Augustine and Daniel Rodgers were brothers, and Brad Hadley (Hartland Historical Society Webmaster) has a family connection to them.
  • George Spear was great-grandfather to Emily (Spear) Devlin and Elizabeth (Spear) Graham, who still own the family farm. Judy Howland is also a Spear descendant.

Thanks to my wife Susan for her contributions in the typing, layout and finished product of this project.

We are fortunate that Pat Richardson is editing my work.  Her expertise in this field greatly improves the readability of the final version.

Les Motschman

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A  Note  From  Carol

A big thank you to Les for doing the research and to Les and Susan for putting together this newsletter. The work that they are doing is of huge value in understanding Hartland’s role in the Civil War.


Reprinted from the January 2013 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter. Page breaks and numbers were preserved to assist in references to specific pages of this document.

Hartland in the Civil War – Part 1


By Les Motschman


Most of you know that America is marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, fought 150 years ago, 1861–1865. Many Americans have been interested in learning about the Civil War ever since it was fought. It touched just about every person in this country at that time; if you had ancestors living here in the mid 1800s, you probably have some family connection to the War.

Perhaps we are still interested in learning about the Civil War because it was such a large-scale conflict fought entirely on American soil and pitted Americans against Americans. The scale of destruction and the number of casualties is something we cannot relate to today, but it is still possible to visit many well-preserved battlefields, mainly in the South and especially Virginia. Indeed, there is such a treasure of information about each action and who served where that it’s possible you can know where your ancestor was 150 years ago and go there yourself.

The Civil War has interested me since its centennial was commemorated in the early 1960s, much like the 150th is being recognized today. When I was in my early teens, events that happened 100 years before seemed like ancient history. Now, fifty years later, 100 years doesn’t seem like such a long time.

My plan is to contribute an article to each HHS newsletter for the duration of the sesquicentennial. I will write about where Hartland men were serving and also what was happening on the home front. This is possible because the HHS has a thick notebook entitled “Hartland in the Civil War,” compiled by the Hartland historian Howland Atwood (1918–2010). He completed the book in October 1963, presumably motivated by the Civil War’s Centennial. The notebook includes detailed lists of Hartland men and when they served with a particular regiment. Also included is some general Civil War history of battles they participated in, but not much in the way of personal stories.

To make this project more interesting, I hope HHS members will submit information about their ancestors’ experiences (letters home, diaries, family history). I recognize many 20th century Hartland names on the rosters, such as Allen, Bowers, Durphey, Martin, Rogers, Rumrill, and Spear. I would appreciate any help in establishing any connection between the men on the rosters and latter-day Hartland residents. Mr. Atwood footnotes his sources and provides fifteen sources in a bibliography. His main source seems to be The Complete History of the Civil War, published in 1960 by Hawthorne Books, Inc. I will not cite Mr. Atwood’s references, but those interested can find the notebook in the HHS collection. When I personally provide information, such as to connect soldiers with modern-day places or people, I will add that info italicized in brackets. To track events, I will also use “The Civil War Book of Days,” a weekly newsletter published by the Vermont Humanities Council that commemorates what happened each week 150 years ago (vermonthumanities.org).

Since the Civil War started in April 1861, it had been going on for a year and a half by this time 150 years ago. I will use this issue of the newsletter to catch us up to September 1862.

In 1861, the United States Army consisted of fewer than 20,000 officers and men in widely scattered companies. The “militia,” 3 million strong on paper, was in fact a huge, unorganized mob. The President could call it to duty, providing the various state governors complied. A 1795 law limited service to three months.

Vermont, of course, promptly rallied to the cause. In a proclamation, Governor Erastus Fairbanks called the State Legislature to convene on April 23, 1861. On the first day of the session, the legislature appropriated an unprecedented sum of $1 million for war purposes. The First Regiment of Vermont Volunteers consisted of militia companies from several towns, including Woodstock. Hartland’s first Civil War soldier was 29-year-old Horace Bradley, who joined the Woodstock company. He was brought up on Densmore Hill near the Woodstock town line [probably the Norman Williams place]. The First Vermont trained in Rutland for a few days, and then left for Fortress Monroe near Hampton, Virginia.

The first objective of the Army was to secure the nation’s capital, just across the Potomac from the rebel state of Virginia. Several Hartland men joined the Third Vermont Regiment in the early summer of 1861. The Third Regiment arrived in Washington on July 26, 1861, marched six miles up the Potomac and laid out Camp Lyon to protect a bridge, a reservoir, and other waterworks. Charles Allen, Roderick Bagley, Fred Blaisdell, Andrew Kezen, Thomas F. Leonard, and Zing Walker were with the Third at that time. The regiment was reviewed at Camp Lyon by President Abraham Lincoln. Several Cabinet members and top Union Generals Winfield Scott and George B. McClellan were also present.

Back in Vermont, the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Regiments were assembling. In late September 1861, these new recruits arrived in Virginia to join the Third Regiment at its new camp across the Potomac from Camp Lyon. Hartland men in the Fourth were Gideon Bennett, Charles H. Cleveland, James French, William Petrie, and Orlando Vaughan. Thomas Kneen of Woodstock came with the Sixth [after the war he owned the farm on Hartland Hill now owned by Andy Stewart].

In October 1861, the men marched four miles into enemy territory and established their winter quarters near Langley, VA. There was very little fighting during the winter months when the men mostly trained, but typhoid, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and all manner of sickness plagued the men all winter and took a heavy toll. Orlando Vaughan died of disease December 2, 1861.


Once enough troops had arrived in Washington to defend the capital, the Union Army could mount a massive offensive assault on the Confederate capital at Richmond. Richmond is only ninety miles south of Washington, but the plan was to attack from the sea, moving up the peninsula formed by the York and James rivers.

On March 10, 1862, the five regiments, which were known as the “Old Vermont Brigade,” abandoned camp and marched to Alexandria. Two weeks later, they sailed down the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to Fortress Monroe at the end of the peninsula.

If you’re wondering, there was a Second Regiment. Formed soon after the First, it was the first three-year regiment raised in Vermont and it formed a brigade with regiments from Maine. There were no Hartland men in the Second, although there were four “substitutes” for Hartland men—apparently out-of-town men were hired by Hartland men to go in their place. Three deserted, and the fourth was taken prisoner.

While the Federals were massing at the end of the peninsula, the Confederates were moving down from Richmond and building strong fortifications to hold back the expected Federal onslaught. When the army advanced up the peninsula on April 4th, General McClellan seemed surprised to be confronted by such formidable entrenchments and ordered a complete halt. Actually, many of the cannon turned out to be black-painted logs. When it was finally decided to try to break and turn the Confederate line, Vermont’s Third Regiment was chosen to lead the daring assault.

The attack was a success. The enemy line was broken, and the Union Army could have advanced; but no reinforcements were sent to follow the Vermonters’ brave attack. After holding their position for an hour, the Vermonters were called back. Of the nearly 200 men who attacked, nearly half were killed or wounded, although apparently no one from Hartland was seriously hurt. What might have been the start of a brilliant campaign for the North and an early cessation of hostilities became known as the Siege of Yorktown. The drive up the peninsula was stalled for a month as soon as it started.

The Green Mountain Men engaged the Confederates in fierce fighting on two more occasions while near Yorktown. Both times, General McClellan ordered the men back into the Union lines. These frustrating results were typical of his management of the Army. The magnificent Army of the Potomac, as it was known, was McClellan’s creation. He was popular with his men and an able strategist, but his hesitancies and tendencies to overestimate the opposing forces were eventually his undoing. The advance of the 100,000-strong Union Army was held back by 15,000 Confederates. Meanwhile, the Confederacy steadily increased its forces, no doubt prolonging the war.

While General McClellan overestimated the strength of the Confederates, General Joseph E. Johnston, the Commander of Confederate forces, knew he was vastly outnumbered. General Johnston received permission from Confederate President Jefferson Davis to withdraw to Richmond. When General McClellan learned that the Confederates had left, he ordered an immediate pursuit. The Army of the Potomac caught up to the rear guard of the Confederates near Williamsburg on May 5, 1862, and General Johnston ordered a counterattack. The Third Regiment was active in repelling the Confederate attack. It experienced hard service at Williamsburg and in the Seven Days Battles that followed.

The Seven Days Battles lasted from June 26 to July 2, 1862, consisting of a series of actions as the Union Army of the Potomac pursued the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, so named by General Robert E. Lee, who took command after General Johnston was seriously wounded. All five Vermont regiments, of course, participated in the pursuit; but with both armies moving up the peninsula, on some days one regiment might be in the thick of the battle while others were holding the Union line but not directly engaged. The exception was the Sixth Regiment, which was constantly in front. White Oak Swamp was the worst fighting as men fought in water up to their waist. After nearly two days of battle, a truce was called so both sides could retrieve the dead and wounded.

The Battle of Malvern Hill ended the Seven Days Battles and the Peninsula Campaign. It was a clear-cut Union success and might have been hailed as a great victory, save for one thing. General McClellan ordered his victorious army to retreat down the peninsula, leaving the field to the astonished Confederates. Some of the Vermont units had come within ten miles of Richmond.


After the Peninsula Campaign, the Vermont Brigade remained in Virginia for nearly two months without engaging the enemy. By the last week of August, it was on the move again. General Lee had secured Richmond and was moving his army north. The large battle of Second Bull Run was fought at Manassas August 26th and 27th. The Vermont Brigade was marching nearby and heard the fighting but was not engaged. Encouraged by a decisive Southern victory at Manassas, General Lee moved to invade the north.

On September 14, the five Vermont regiments, along with 18,000 other Union troops under the command of General William B. Franklin, encountered Confederates near Harper’s Ferry and the march was stalled.

[Note: Although I haven’t mentioned the formation of any Vermont regiments beyond the Sixth, men were enlisting throughout 1862; I will describe their service in later installments. Mr. Atwood does note that James Fallan and Daniel Patch of the Ninth Vermont were at Harper’s Ferry. They entered the army in July. Patch deserted but eventually returned to his unit and was discharged with a disability November 21, 1862.]


Antietam was the bloodiest day of the Civil War. The two massive armies came together in a dawn-to-dusk battle in which 24,000 men fell; 4,800 died that day, and many more died later of their wounds. Thousands of bodies lay in lines as they had fought; bodies lay in the Sunken Road five feet deep. The Vermont Brigade came late to Antietam and was put with the reserve troops. Although it was under fire, the Vermont Brigade must have missed the worst fighting, for no casualties have been noted for Hartland men at that battle.

After the battle, General Lee withdrew his battered army south across the Potomac and awaited General McClellan’s attack. It never came. True to form, General McClellan did not pursue, even though he had two fresh corps, including the Vermonters. Thus, yet another opportunity to crush the rebel army and end the war was missed.

The Vermont Brigade spent October 1862 resting at camp in Hagerstown, Maryland. On November 7th, General McClellan was replaced by General Ambrose Burnside.


To recap, 11 of the 14 Hartland men in the Vermont Brigade fought their way up the peninsula, skirted the major battle of Second Bull Run, engaged the rebels in Maryland and were at bloody Antietam, yet remained unscathed. Horace Bradley’s three-month enlistment was up after the Peninsula Campaign, so he returned home. Orlando Vaughan died of disease before any action. Charles Cleveland was discharged with a disability on December 27, 1861.

There were other Hartland men fighting in the war in regiments I haven’t introduced yet and who died in 1862. Two men from the First Vermont Cavalry died of disease on October 30, 1862. Henry Holt and Benjamin Rogers joined the Cavalry in November 1861. Rogers was taken prisoner May 24, 1862, while in the Shenandoah Valley. He was released September 13, 1862 and died a month and a half later. Many more Hartland men entered the army in 1862. Their service is the subject of the next installment.

Reprinted from the Fall 2012 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.

The Tale Of Hartland’s First Settler

The Lull descendants don’t agree, but I think there is little doubt that Oliver Willard was the first settler in Hartland. He was here, at least by 1759, beating Timothy Lull by four years.

It was Oliver Willard who called upon Gov. Benning Wentworth in Portsmouth, N.H. and secured a patent for Hartland (It was Hertford then) on July 10, 1761. Oliver immediately sent out a notice for the following meeting.

“Province of New Hampshire: Notice is hereby given to the Proprietors of Hertford on Connecticut River, That they Assemble at Fort Drummer on the last Wednesday in August next, First, To chuse a Clerk, also a Proprietor’s Treasurer, and to raise what Money shall be thought needful for the defraying the Charges of procuring the Grant of the Township; and to chuse a Committee to bound out the Town, and allot the same (if needful) and raise Money sufficient to defray the said Charges. Also to agree on a method for the calling their Meetings for the future, and to chuse the necessary Town Officers for said Town. Dated at Portsmouth, July 14, 1761. Oliver Willard.”

Who was Oliver and how did he come to be on this stage at this time? He was the 4th generation of Willards in North America, preceded by others who were instrumental in forming our country. Simon was the 1st to settle here from England, and was one of the ones to found the plantation of Concord, Mass in 1635. He had a long and illustrious life.

Next came Simon’s son, Henry (the 11th of 17 children) born in Concord in 1655. Henry provided 14 children to the Harvard, Mass area. One of these was Josiah, born in Lancaster about 1693. He was one of the first settlers of Lunenburg, a Captain in frontier service against the Indian enemy, and was commander of Fort Drummer in Brattleboro. He was an original proprietor in “the township on the East side of the Connecticut River above Nothfield, commonly called Arlington”.

Our Oliver was his son, born in 1729 (7th of only 9) in Lunenburg, and was a Colonel at Forth Drummer by 1748. He was one of the grantees of Winchester and Westmoreland, N.H. He then settled in Hartland, Vt. where he was proprietor of the entire township and sold to the settlers. He took the side of New York in the boundary dispute.

Oliver’s son Levi was the first child born in Hartland, arriving in 1759. Poor Levi was unlucky in love. Levi Willard, the son of Col. Oliver and Thankful Doolittle Willard, was born at Hartland, Vt. and died at Sheldon, Vt. in Oct. 1839 at age 80. He went early to Montreal, E.C. espousing the British cause and being employed in the commissary department; engaged after the war in the Fur Company, and for several years led a wandering life among savages and trappers.

“Traditions have it that previous to this he had married Jane Dailly of Montreal, said to be an accomplished Irish lady; but returning there had been informed of her unfaithfulness and departure for Hartland. Arriving there and finding the report confirmed, he walked his room in agony all night, and found in the morning that his hair had become prematurely gray, After this he taught school some time in Richford, Vt. but at length repaired to Sheldon, where a daughter resided, and there this unhappy man, from being first scholar in his class, (Dartmouth, 1776) descended to his grave in painful humiliation and obscurity.”

Information taken from the “Willard Geneology” by Joseph Willard 1915, “In Sight of Ye Great River” and “Alumni of Dartmouth College by G.T. Chapman, class of 1804.

This article first appeared in the May 26th (2011) print edition of the Vermont Standard.