Civil War Research in Your Town
Learn How to Learn about Sites and Personal Stories Nearby
“The breadth of the Vermont initiative, and its clever interweaving of a wide array of cultural threads, makes it uncommonly attractive. . . . Vermont seems well-suited to this effort, which might serve as a model for others to emulate.”
– Robert Krick,
Civil War author and historian
VHC is promoting a statewide search for Vermont's Civil War sites: the public and private places where people mobilized, worked, argued, worried, and mourned. The Civil War affected all Vermonters—not only those who went to war. Home front history can be found in the churches where abolitionists lectured, the factories that made guns and uniforms, the farms run by women and children in the absence of men, and the monuments, GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) halls, and cemeteries throughout the state.
With unrecognized Civil War sites in every town, VHC invites Vermonters to locate them, research their history, and share their stories. You don’t need to be a trained historian to discover and document Civil War sites; the VHC has created a free research kit to help you. Among the sites already found are a church in Braintree where William Lloyd Garrison spoke, a cave in Barnard where a man hid to avoid the draft, a home where women met to sew necessities for soldiers, and the house in Jay, Vermont were the last surviving Civil War veteran lived.
Share your findings through a brochure or essay, a walking or driving tour, on the Web, or with an exhibit or event. You may wish to use VHC’s walking tour and brochure templates, or to use sample projects, such as our Civil War walking tour of Burlington, as models. Be sure to use our Civil War Places logo to mark your projects as part of this statewide effort, and be sure to let VHC know of your work. Download the resources at right and join the search.
VHC undertook the project in 2006 with grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which runs from 2011 to 2015. No state in which major fighting did not occur has ever undertaken such a comprehensive inventory of its Civil War sites.
Announcement of the project generated strong enthusiasm throughout the state and beyond. Governor Jim Douglas, in a letter to the NEH endorsing the project, wrote, “This project. . . affords Vermont a wonderful opportunity to strengthen tourism, communities, and education by presenting to a variety of public audiences the best of what Vermont really is—a state blessed with a beautiful landscape that is rich in heritage and vital communities.”
Kevin Graffagnino, former executive director of the Vermont Historical Society, wrote, “This is a creative and distinctive project. . . . It has wonderful possibilities for scholarship, for collaboration and coordination among cultural heritage organizations, and for community involvement throughout the state.”
Robert Krick, an author of fifteen books on the Civil War and for thirty-one years Chief Historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia, considered the Vermont project innovative.
“The breadth of the Vermont initiative, and its clever interweaving of a wide array of cultural threads, makes it uncommonly attractive,” Krick wrote. “Vermont seems well-suited to this effort, which might serve as a model for others to emulate.”
Vermont is an ideal state to undertake such a project for a number of reasons, including its manageable size, rich Civil War history, well-preserved natural and man-made landscape, and excellent archival resources.
It is clear that Vermont contains a rich collection of such sites. Some relate to important events or entire towns, others capture the eccentricity of history and humanity. Examples include soldiers’ homes, drill fields, monuments, hospitals, factories that made war materials, cemeteries, and halls where war meetings were held and abolitionists spoke. Members of the public are encouraged to identify and research such sites.