April 2011 will mark the 150th Anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War and the Vermont Historical Society has laid out some preliminary plans for the multi-year observance include several large statewide events, as well as coordination of community-based activities. The planning team has drafted annual themes for each year of the commemoration that they hope will resonate with contemporary issues.
In recognition of the significant role Vermont played in this bloody conflict, the Vermont Historical Society is partnering with historical organizations and historians throughout the state to plan events and programs for the state’s Sesquicentennial Commemoration with the following themes:
1861/2011-The Years When Democracy Was Tested
1862/2012-The Year of Higher Moral Purpose
1863/2013-The Year of the Citizen Soldier – War, Politics and the Home Front
1864/2014-The Year of Suffering and Perseverance
1865/2015-The Year of Reckoning and Reckoning Deferred
The second article in Vermont’s 1777 constitution, abolished slavery, making it the first state to do so. As a result of Vermont’s abolitionists tendencies, more than 28,100 Vermonters served in Vermont volunteer units and nearly 5,000 others served in other states’ units, in the United States Army or the United States Navy. A total of 166 African American Vermonters served out of a population of just 709 in the entire state.
The first military action seen by Vermonters was at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, where a battalion of the 1st Vermont Infantry was engaged. The 1st Vermont Cavalry regiment participated in more than 70 engagements.
Following the Confederate raid on St. Albans on October 19, 1864, Vermont fielded two companies of Frontier Cavalry, who spent six months on the Canadian border to prevent further incursions from Confederate raiders.
Sixty-four Vermonters received the Medal of Honor, including Willie Johnston, the youngest person ever to receive this award.