Robert Coffey
Robert Coffey from Montpelier was one of the first Vermonters to go to war with Vermont’s 1st Regiment in May 1861. The 1st enlisted for only three months and mustered out in August 1861. Coffey reenlisted as a veteran with Company K, 4th Vermont Regiment in September 1861. The 1st Regiment’s only encounter with Confederates occurred one month into their service at Big Bethel, Virginia on June 10, 1861. Though the engagement was nothing to brag about, the Vermonters held their own during the action. What was more telling about these Vermonters was that over 600 of 753 of the rank and file from the 1st Regiment reenlisted.

Coffey was promoted to sergeant in the 4th Regiment and served his entire three-year enlistment even though he was wounded on October 18, 1863. In 1892 Coffey was awarded the Medal of Honor for distinguished conduct at Banks Ford, Virginia where he single-handedly captured two officers and five privates of the 8th Louisiana Regiment. During his later years Coffey served as superintendent of the Soldier’s Home in Bennington.

Copyright 2006, Vermont Historical Society.  All rights reserved.
Reproduction of photographs or text without written permission is prohibited.