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George G. Benedict's "Vermont in the Civil War"

The State of Vermont delayed too long to make provision for a history of the part taken by her troops in the great civil war. During the years thus lost, the grave closed over many who helped to make the history and who could have furnished valuable information to the historian. When, at last, the legislature acted on the subject, the labor of preparing the history was omitted to one whose other exacting duties might well have excused him from this task. The work of preparation was then suspended for two years in consequence of a defect in the legislation upon the subject. It has been further delayed by the unfortunate provision forbidding any outlay from the State treasury for information and historical materials, and by prolonged delays (and some absolute failures) to contribute indispensable information, on the part of many of those best qualified to furnish facts and describe events. As a class, it must be said, the Vermont soldiers have not been eager to recite their deeds. This fact was noticeable during the war, especially so far as the members of the First Brigade were concerned; and their reluctance to tell their own story seems not to have lessened much as time has gone on. Some, however, have rendered important aid to the historian. My acknowledgements are especially due to Colonel William C. Holbrook of the Seventh regiment, Captain George N. Carpenter and Herbert E. Hill of the Eighth, Captain Charles F. Branch of the Ninth, Lieut. Colonel Aldace F. Walker of the Eleventh; Captain H. K. Ide of the First Vermont cavalry and Lieut. Colonel W. Y. W. Ripley of the First U.S. Sharpshooters, for their laborious and valuable contributions. Others have aided in other ways or in less degree. The regimental history of the Tenth Vermont by Chaplains Haynes and Walker's spirited history of the Vermont brigade in the Shenandoah Valley have been freely drawn on. Adjutant General Peter T. Washburn's War Reports have of course been a mine of indispensable facts and statistics. To Colonel Robert N. Scott, U.S.A., in charge of the exhaustive compilation of the Official Records of the civil war; to Major Merritt Barber, Assistant Adjutant General, U.S.A., and to Adjutant General T. S. Peck of Vermont, my thanks are due for valuable assistance and numerous official courtesies.

The materials thus obtained have been supplemented by various special contributions, relating to particular battles or events; by personal recollections; diaries of soldiers in the field; army letters to friends, and war correspondence in the newspapers. No available source of information has been intentionally neglected, and to the knowledge thus obtained I have added considerable study of the official reports and records of both the Union and Confederate armies, and of the works of historians on both sides.

The tasked assigned to me, was not to make an entertaining description of war scenes and army life; but to record facts. The space occupied by the records of the service of twenty-four different organizations of infantry, cavalry, artillery and sharpshooters, comprising over thirty thousand men, has largely forbidden extended descriptions, and compelled the omission of many interesting personal incidents. But it will be found, I trust, that the essential facts have been given. I have endeavored, throughout, to sift fact from fancy, and from the numerous and inevitable contradictions in the recollections and testimony of even honest witnesses, to separate the important from the trivial; and to set down the noble record of the Vermont troops in such connection with the general history of the campaigns in which they were engaged, as to show what they accomplished and the relation of their service to that of the larger organizations to which they belonged. Few will understand the amount of labor expended in the work; but I may be permitted to express the hope that many will recognize the controlling desire of the historian to do justice to all, within the limits imposed, and to be everywhere truthful and impartial.


Burlington, 1886.

Source: G. G. Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers and Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5, (Free Press Association, Burlington, 1886-1888), pp. v-vii.