Politics and Military

A Vermont Civil War Soldier Longs To Go West

A Civil War drum corps in Virginia.

A Civil War drum corps in Virginia.

Charlie George, a Vermont Civil War soldier, was one of four brothers who enlisted in the 10th Vermont Volunteer Infantry. They were all musical and became members of the  regimental band.

The George boys grew up in  Newbury, Vt., in a large farming family, the sons of James George and Maria Nourse. They had three sisters. Their father, who drank and gambled, wasn’t much of a provider. The boys all left home at a young age, two to farm, two to become telegraph operators

Charlie and Osman first joined the 10th Vermont in the summer of 1862. Their younger brother Herbert soon followed them. Two years later, brother Jere enlisted.

Charlie was in his mid-30s when he wrote this letter to his wife Ellie back home in Vermont on April 21, 1865:

(Friday)–We have got the late details of the assassination of President Lincoln. What a tragedy! When I think of the cheerful, pleasant and kind hearted face I met a few days ago in Petersburg it seems to horrible to believe! I shall never forget the expression of his face as he returned our salutes.

Ellie, I have been thinking about going West — I hate to give up the idea — in going there I can see everything prosperous and to stay in Vermont I can see nothing, but the same series of hard times that has followed us since we were married. By going West I can see a pleasant homestead made from the wild, but fertile land — a homestead fashioned after my own ideas — beautiful gardens and pleaant shade trees and orchards. You may think I see through a magnifying glass, and I know the fertility of the soil and rapidity of growth in Vermont and I could stay in Vermont and be happy, but my chosen locality has always been in the broad western prairies. I do not want you to feel bad because I want to go, for I shall never go without your willing consent. I know too well the ties that bind you — it is your mother — and it would mean that I would be taking you away from her. I love her and do not wish to do that, which will cause her to grieve. I think that if we should emigrate and succeed well, your father would soon follow. He is too good a farmer to spend all his days among the rocks and hills of Vermont, when there is such a splendid country within reach. They are just having “Tattoo” — how long before I shall be where I can go to bed without the fife and drum for summons!….

With thanks to “Bully for the Band!”: The Civil War Letters and Diary of Four Brothers in the 10th Vermont Infantry Band, by Charles George, Herbert George, Jere George and Osman George; edited by James A. Davis.



  1. Ted Cooper

    April 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Whom he met ..,,

  2. Catherine Rogers

    April 22, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Ah, a fellow grammar crank. Nice to see you. 🙂

  3. Kathy Degraff Svagdis

    April 22, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Wonder if he made it out west?

  4. Pingback: The Lousey Life of a 10th Vermont Civil War Soldier in Camp - New England Historical Society

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top