April 12, 2011 will mark the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) has already begun leading the statewide planning effort for the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration. With educational institutions, state agencies and other nonprofit organizations, VHS will be developing plans for programs that will explore and celebrate the role of the Green Mountain State in this bloody conflict.
Statewide events, such as an encampment of Civil War reenactors and a major conference, as well as activities that will explore the Civil War stories in communities throughout Vermont are under consideration. The VHS are also working with the Vermont Governor’s office to create a Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission that will coordinate planning and implementation throughout the multi-year commemoration.
The second article in Vermont’s 1777 constitution, abolished slavery, making it the first state to do so. As a result of Vermont’s abolitionists tendencies, more than 28,100 Vermonters served in Vermont volunteer units and nearly 5,000 others served in other states’ units, in the United States Army or the United States Navy. A total of 166 African American Vermonters served out of a population of just 709 in the entire state.
The first military action seen by Vermonters was at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, where a battalion of the 1st Vermont Infantry was engaged. The 1st Vermont Cavalry regiment participated in more than 70 engagements.
Following the Confederate raid on St. Albans on October 19, 1864, Vermont fielded two companies of Frontier Cavalry, who spent six months on the Canadian border to prevent further incursions from Confederate raiders.
Sixty-four Vermonters received the Medal of Honor, including Willie Johnston, the youngest person ever to receive this award.