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1st Vermont Cavalry

Major, 1st Vermont Cavalry

Soon after the Civil War started, Lemuel B. Platt of Colchester petitioned Governor Fairbanks for authorization to raise a cavalry regiment in Vermont, but lacking any law authorizing such a unit, the governor demurred. Platt then went to Washington, enlisted the assistance of Senator Solomon Foot (Republican, Vermont), and requested the same permission from the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron. Cameron commissioned Platt as a colonel, with authority to raise and equip a cavalry regiment, based on the reputation that Vermont Morgan horses had earned in Europe and early in the Civil War.

Returning to Vermont, Platt recruited several men to help him recruit the regiment, including 31-year-old John D. Bartlett, of Montpelier, who recruited a company from Washington County, and was elected to the captaincy of the company (Company C). Bartlett was subsequently elected the junior major of the regiment. He received his commission as captain on 1 November 1861, to date from 14 October 1861, and was promoted to major on 18 November 1861. As some point, possibly in early April 1862, Major Bartlett had gone home on furlough and submitted his resignation on account of the sickness of his wife and child; his resignation was accepted 25 April 1862.

By as early as 1885, John Bartlett was living in Allston, Massachusetts, and that is where he died, on 17 January 1907.

Views of Major Bartlett's sword, courtesy of Tom Jones, Medina, OH:

Photograph of Major Bartlett with sword, from the John Gibson collection:


1866 Adjutant General's Report, p. 148

1892 Revised Roster, p. 220

1885 Reunion Society of Vermont Officers roster, p. 475.

1906 Reunion Society of Vermont Officers roster, p. 380.

George 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," (The Free Press Association, Burlington, Vt., 1888), pp. 533-4, 536, 551.

Elliott Hoffman, "History of the First Vermont Cavalry Volunteers in the War of the Great Rebellion," (Butternut & Blue, Baltimore, 2000), pp. 14-5, 25, 36, 60, 67.

Military Record: credited to Montpelier, age, 31, was commissioned Captain, Co. C, 1st Vermont Cavalry on 11/1/1861 (to date from 10/14/1861). He was promoted Major 11/18/1861, and resigned 4/25/1862. (Source: 1866 Adjutant General's Report, 1982 Revised Roster)

In both the 1885 and 1906 rosters of the Reunion Society of Vermont Officers, his mailing address was Allston, Mass. According to a very brief notice in the Boston Globe, Bartlett died in Allston, Mass., on January 17, 1907. Services were held in his late residence at 22 Linden Street.

Pages 533-4: "Vermont sent one regiment of cavalry to the war. It was the first full regiment of mounted men raised in New England, and was the largest regiment but one sent from Vermont, comprising from first to last 2,297 officers and men. It has a notable history. All previous Vermont regiments had been recruited by the State authorities. The cavalry regiment was raised under the direct authority of the United States. A proposal to raise such a regiment was made to Governor Fairbanks in the summer of 1861 by Lemuel B. Platt, of Colchester; but as no State law authorized the recruiting of cavalry, the Governor declined the offer and Mr. Platt turned to the National Government. Accompanied by Senator Foot, he laid the matter before the Secretary of War. Mr. Cameron had heard of Vermont (534) horses—whose fame had crossed the Atlantic and brought orders to the Green Mountains from Louis Napoleon for animals for the imperial stables—as well as of Vermont troops, and he promptly commissioned Mr. Platt as a colonel, with authority to raise and equip a cavalry regiment. Colonel Platt was that time a well-to-do farmer, 50 years old, of tall and powerful frame, of marked energy, and of considerable prominence in local politics. He was wholly without military training, and frankly told the Secretary, when he inquired concerning his military experience, that it consisted of three days spent at a militia muster when he was a young man, two of which he passed in the guard-house. But he could raise a regiment, though he did not consider himself qualified to drill and command it; and he would undertake to do it in forty days. In forty-two days from that date the regiment was in camp, the uniforms provided, and the horses on the ground. The recruiting officers were as follows: George B. Kellogg, Brattleboro; John D. Bartlett, Montpelier; George P. Conger, St. Albans; Frank A. Platt, Burlington; George T. Roberts, Rutland; James B. Wood, Dorset; Franklin Moore, Shoreham; Reed Bascom, Windsor; Edward B. Sawyer, Hyde Park; Salmon B. Hebard, Chelsea."

Page 536: "The junior major was John D. Bartlett of Montpelier, a tall and fine looking young Vermonter, who had recruited the Washington County company, had been elected its captain, and was then promoted to the majority."

Page 551: "On the 25th (April), the resignation of Major Bartlett, who had gone home on leave, on account of the sickness of his wife and child, was accepted, and Captain E. B. Sawyer of company I was appointed major, over seven captains whose commissions antedated his. "

In Elliott Hoffman's "History of the First Vermont Cavalry Volunteers in the War of the Great Rebellion," (Butternut & Blue, Baltimore, 2000): page 14 "Company C was raised in Washington County, headquarters at Montpelier and elected for officers on the 7th day of October 1861 as follows: for Captain John D. Bartlett, First Lieutenant William Wells, and Second Lieutenant Henry M. Paige."

page 15 "The regiment was recruited in a very short time, none being enlisted previous to September 8th and it went into camp at Burlington on the Fair Ground about October 9th, some of the companies arriving a few days before the others ... Soon after our arrival an election was held by the officers to choose majors, which resulted in the choice of William D. Collins of Company G for first major and John D. Bartlett of company C for second major."

page 25 "The command devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Kellogg and as Major Bartlett had resigned we had only two field officers left." (Colonel Holliday had committed suicide on 3 April).

The only other references to him (pp. 36, 60, 67) were to Captain Sawyer being appointed Major vice Bartlett, resigned.