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U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps


"The conduct of the war upon the water is a totally different matter from warfare upon the land. The ocean is itself a source of danger and fear, with its rocks and shoals, its fogs, and storms and howling tempests. But when a battle is on foot we may consider from the sailor's lot what true courage is. To the soldier it is at least open at the last extremity to run away. Few veterans can be found who will not readily admit that on some occasions this privilege was enjoyed. But the sailor can never leave his ship. If she goes down under the enemy's guns, all on board go with her. If she sails across the dreaded torpedo line she carries all her crew. There is no cover to be found upon her deck. There is no hospital in the rear. There are steam boilers and powder magazines which may explode. Fire is a constant danger. An unlucky shot, striking machinery, rudder, or even tiller rope, may leave all hands any instant at the mercy of the foe. And in case of any calamitous event the solid earth is replaced by yawning waves. Yet seamen upon ships of war apparently know no fear. They fight until the ship goes down, and their education tells them that such persistence is not mere idle gallantry, for in naval battles the game is not over until the last gun is fired. A chance shot at any moment may recover the day and gain the victory." - LtCol. Aldace F. Walker, 11th Vermont Infantry.

George Grenville Benedict, Vermont's Civil War Historian, said "The number of Vermonters enrolled as such, in the Navy and Marine Corps, during the war, was 619 (sic). Few details of their service have been obtainable; but there were Vermonters in every rank from seaman to commodore. One of them was on the steamer Star of the West and under the fire of the first hostile guns fired, January 9th, 1861, three months before the war fairly began. Several participated in the fight of the Merrimac with the Union fleet, in Hampton Roads, March 8th, 1862, and the body of one of them, killed by a shot from the Merrimac, was burned with the frigate Congress. Others took part in the capture of New Orleans and the opening of the Mississippi; in the naval operations in the Gulf; in the blockade of Southern forts; in the reduction of Fort Fisher, and in other notable naval engagements.".... [continued]

Navy Paymaster Horatio Loomis Wait said "At the commencement of the Rebellion the nominal naval force consisted of ninety vessels of all descriptions. Most of these were so old as to be unfit for any service. Only nine were efficient war ships of the best type then known, and but one of these were at a northern port available for immediate service--most of the other vessels in commission had been designedly sent to foreign stations.... [continued]

Lieutenan-Colonel Aldace F. Walker, in a speech to the Vermont Society of Union Officers, presented a look back and a look forward on 'The Navy of the United States,' in Montpelier, on 6 November 1884: "Vermont, as we all know, is the only New England State without a sea-coast. At the present day maritime affairs attract our interest but little. Yet there was once a time in the history of Vermont, which is perhaps within the memory of some of our guests upon this occasion, when a fleet was built, fitted out and manned within our own borders, and a naval battle of great importance was fought in sight of thousands of our citizens." [continued]

There were, in fact, more than 1,100 sailors and marines from Vermont who served during the Civil War. This section of the website will provide the basic material provided in the 1892 Revised Roster, and as much additional information as can be found. Use the menu on the left to navigate through the Navy/Marine Corps section. See especially the "Profiles" section, for biographies on prominent Vermont Blue-Jackets.