Vermont Already Planning Civil War Sesquicentennial

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.

2 thoughts on “Vermont Already Planning Civil War Sesquicentennial

  • November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Where do I send inquiries about grants, funding for this event?
    St. Albans, Vt is in the planning stages of a great re-enactment of the famous raid, October 2014

  • November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Now millions of people will have access to the records of the Civil War, online, searchable at The project was launched in 2002 by Karen Needles, Founder and Director. “This is the first digital project to focus on digitizing every record housed within the National Archives and Records Administration, which was created during Abraham Lincoln’s administration.

    Records from the State Dept, Treasury, Justice, War, Adjutant General are being scanned in color, transcribed for full search capability, and linked to related photos, maps, newspaper articles, providing primary and secondary sources to help the user better understand why that document was written, who was writing it, as well as a link to related documents among the millions of records in other agencies within the Lincoln administration. Also being digitized are the records of the Confederate government, which were captured and later accessioned into the National Archives.

    For those millions of Americans, as well as global researchers interested in the Civil War, who cannot afford to come to Washington, D.C. to view these records, this project will now provide access to those records.

    Since the National Archives does not index or inventory the billions of records which are accessioned, doing research at the Archives is very laborious, and time consuming. “It is really like going up into Grandma’s attic. Looking through a box of odds and ends, you will find junk, but there may be a treasure there.”

    Digitizing these records also provides a high resolution image of the document to assist the federal government in recovering lost and stolen documents.

    The next five years will see thousands more documents going online, with more interactive timelines, as well as special features, focusing on specific topics like “Lincoln and the Constitution”, “The Draft Act”, “The Conscription Act”, etc.

    The website also hosts the annual Lincoln Institute symposiums, with the presentations of major Lincoln and Civil War scholars from 2005-2010.

    Ed Bearrs, former Chief Historian for the National Park Service, says “”This project is in a line of magnitude with the amply funded Centennial projects presenting the papers of Jefferson Davis and Ulysses S. Grant.”

    “Yes, it is a massive project, but compared to the records of WWII and the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, this is a piece of cake says Director Karen Needles. This project will enable scholarship access to records that would take years to access in the Archives. Letting technology do all of the work, instant access to records using search capabilities will make scholarship efficient and timely.”

    Best regards,
    Karen Needles
    Lincolnarchives Digital Project


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