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Norwich University Kreitzberg Library

Civil War Resources in the Norwich Archives

NU Alumni and the Civil War

Although most of the collections listed in this guide document the Civil War experiences of individual alumni, there are other materials in the Archives that highlight overall alumni contributions to the Civil War. 

Among these are the collection of Robert G. Poirier and the “Norwich University in the Civil War” file in the Civil War Collection. The latter collection includes articles about NU in the Civil War as well as rolls of honor for NU men killed in the War.  The Civil War Collection consists of both primary and secondary materials collected through the years, most of which are too small and random to form their own collections. Also of interest is a typescript in the Archives entitled, “The Contribution of Norwich University to the Civil War,” written by former faculty member and university historian, Robert D. Guinn (1895-1969), prior to Robert G. Poirier’s research for his book, By the Blood of our Alumni: Norwich University Citizen Soldiers in the Army of the Potomac (Mason City, Iowa: Savas Publishing Co., 1999).

To understand how the military service of NU and its alumni was perceived shortly after the Civil war, a letter written in 1872 by Charles Albert Curtis to Wheelock Graves Veazey (found in the Records of the Commandant's Office) discusses the role played by Norwich University and its alumni in the recent war.

NU also boasts four alumni, Willie Johnston, Edmund Rice, Thomas Seaver, and Edward Williston, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for Civil War actions.  The Archives has substantial biographical information (described below) on each of these men.   

Other important Civil War figures have an association with Norwich University. Although the University Archives has little primary source material on the Civil War contributions of these men, their association with NU makes them interesting topics of inquiry. Among these are Grenville Dodge (Class of 1851), Robert Milroy (Class of 1843), Gideon Welles (Class of 1826), Secretary of the Navy under President Abraham Lincoln, and Oliver Otis Howard (trustee).

NU During the Civil War

Several of the collections listed in this research guide can help to shed light on the operation of the University during the Civil War.  The Albert Gallatin collection provides insight into the experience of a faculty member at NU during the Civil War and the William Strong Dewey collection is composed of the academic work of a NU cadet during wartime.  The role of NU in the St. Albans Raid in October of 1864 is documented in the Charles N. Kent collection.

Other resources reveal conditions at NU during the Civil War. The student newspaper at the time, the Reveille, offers information about events and attitudes on campus as well as news of alumni involvement in the War.

For information on the administration of the University during the Civil War, the minutes of the Board of Trustees may reveal to the persistent researcher the impact of the War on institutional operations. In addition to documenting motions, votes and resolutions made during Board meetings, the minutes for the Civil War years also include the yearly President’s and financial reports.

Vermont in the Civil War

Many resources in Archives and Special Collections provide local perspectives on events and conditions during the Civil War. The following collections may be helpful resources to Civil War research with a broader Vermont focus: the Alzono Jackman collection, the Charles N. Kent collection, and the John Henry Hopkins letter

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