The War Begins

Governor Erastus Fairbanks' quote1st vermont Regiment Camp in Brattleboro


Governor Fairbanks asked the General Assembly to provide men and money for the war. His requests were quickly approved. No one envisioned the long and bloody war. Vermont’s 1st Regiment, composed of men from the state’s various militia units, was activated for only three months. However, it soon became apparent that the war between the Union and the Confederacy would not be a quick fight and more men would be needed.

Over the course of the war Vermont would raise seventeen infantry regiments, a cavalry regiment, four companies of sharpshooters, four artillery batteries, and a frontier cavalry composed of two companies. In all, more than 34,000 Vermonters served in the military, more than ten percent of the state’s population. A total of 5,237 Vermonters were killed in battle or died from wounds, disease, or accidents. Vermont would spend nearly ten million dollars on the war. 

The Civil War had an impact on every aspect of life, from families who lost loved ones, to farms and factories that lost their work force, to charitable groups that turned their efforts to supporting the war. Like all wars, it forever changed the men who fought in it. Many saw a different way of life upon leaving their farms for the first time and never returned home. Some who came home never recovered from their traumas, while others went back to their former lives, and many served as leaders of their communities. All shared the common experience of having fought for the principles of freedom and unity.

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