Monday, May 22, 2017

Smith, John Gregory - 1865

War Governors of Vermont, 1863-1865

John Gregory Smith, of St. Albans, Vermont, was elected Governor in September, 1863, and re-elected in September, 1864, serving two terms. He was representative from St. Albans in the Legislature convened in annual session, October, 1860. He was at this time a rising, and one of the leading lawyers of the State, and also trustee of the Vermont and Canada R. R. His ability, suavity, commanding presence and business relations secured to him at once a prominent position in the political and business affairs of the state.

He was an influential member of the Legislature assembled in annual session, October, 1860, and took an active and conspicuous part in the deliberations of the extra session called by Governor Fairbanks only a few days after the assault on Fort Sumter to consider measures pertaining to the then pending conflict between some of the Southern states and the general government.

Mr. Smith, of St. Albans was speaker of the House for the annual sessions of 1861 and 1862 in which capacity he displayed that wonderful executive ability that made him a successful man in the management of great business enterprises, especially railroad developments in Vermont and the great west. From the commencement of the Civil War to its close, he with patriotic devotion gave his ability
and untiring energy to the prosecution of the war in order that the wicked rebellion might be subdued and the Union preserved.

His commanding position in the political, social and business affairs of the State frequently called him into the councils of the nation during the progress of the war. President Lincoln often consulted his war governor, John Gregory Smith of Vermont and entrusted to him the mighty problems that burdened his heart for his opinion. Governor Smith was a frequent visitor in Washington and at the White House.

He visited the hospitals, the camps, especially where the boys from Vermont were to be found, ever on the alert to see what could be done to improve conditions, to encourage and cheer Vermonters that were in the service.

Governor Smith was very proud of the valiant service and unparalleled record made by the sons of Vermont on the many battlefields in which they took part. He appreciated their unselfish devotion to their country, and never forgot to recognize and reward, so far as possible, all who volunteered from the State of Vermont. The uniform was a pass on his railroads to the soldier on his way to the front or returning home from the dreaded hospital, or wounded from the field of battle.

He was one of the noble men of our state that did much to buoy up the hopes of President Lincoln during the last two years of the war. Nearly all of the military organizations from Vermont had companies or parts of companies from St. Albans, the home town of Governor Smith, and the long list of boys from St. Albans who received commissions was a flattering compliment to their valor, and appreciation of their services by the Governor.

The writer was personally acquainted with Governor Smith from the time he was Governor to
the end of his remarkable career and knows whereof he speaks. Of his many virtues and noble characteristics, I have mentioned only a few. It is proper to say that Governor John Gregory Smith was one of the great men of Vermont and the peer of any in his day and generation.
~ History of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, written in 1910 by Ralph Orson Sturtevant, pages 16 & 17.

You can visit the memorial page for John Gregory Smith.

Holbrook, Frederick - 1910

War Governors of Vermont, 1861

Frederick Holbrook was elected Governor of Vermont in September, 1861, re-elected in September, 1862, serving two terms. The Second Vermont Brigade was composed of the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and
16th Vermont Regiments, and recruited under the administration of Governor Holbrook.

The urgent call made by President Lincoln on Governor Holbrook for Vermont's quota under this particular call was so promptly complied with as to assure the President that Vermont's war Governor was fully alive to the mighty struggle for National existence and the great responsibilities resting on him as Governor of Vermont. The war had been in progress only a few months at the date when Governor Holbrook first assumed office, October 10, 1861.

First Bull Run, July 21, 1861 was the only great battle that had been fought, and this a humiliating defeat and in fact the mighty contest had just begun, and Governor Holbrook in common with the other war Governors of the New England States comprehended the magnitude of the fearful struggle that must ensue in order to preserve the Union and sustain the integrity of the administration of President Lincoln and therefore as a true patriot he addressed himself with great energy to the single and most important question, the preparation for the preservation of the Union and defense of Country.

He was the trusted adviser of President Lincoln during the darkest days of the Rebellion from October, 1861, to October, 1863. It is claimed that more volunteers went to the front from Vermont under his administration and more commissions were signed by him than both of the other war Governors of our state. He was Governor when the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th regiments were recruited and sent to the front, and the boys of the 13th regiment who rendezvoused at his hometown, Brattleboro, Vermont, on their way to Washington were encouraged by his cheering words of advise and the glad and hearty welcome given on our way to Washington, and on our return to be mustered out.

His words of praise for the distinguished service rendered on the great battlefield of Gettysburg, was an eloquent compliment, for he said "you have accomplished wonders and the Second Vermont Brigade is given the credit of the defeat of General Pickett in the sanguinary struggle at Gettysburg, and final victory in General Lee's last great effort on that momentous battlefield”. He fully realized that these regiments though young in years and inexperienced in battle accomplished more in a single hour at the close of the three days of fearful struggle when they met the flower of General Lee's great army led by his especially chosen officer, General Pickett, than some brigades during their term of service.

Governor Holbrook during his two terms of office fully met every responsibility and discharged every duty to state and nation in such a manner as to secure deserving credit to himself and honor to the state he served. This grand old man still lives in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is the oldest of the surviving-
War Governors of that most eventful period of our National existence, the Civil War.
~ History of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, written in 1910 by Ralph Orson Sturtevant, pages 14 & 15.

You can visit the memorial page for Frederick Holbrook.

Fairbanks, Erastus - 1864

War Governors of Vermont, 1861

Erastus Fairbanks, of St. Johnsbury, was the first war Governor of Vermont, and was elected in September, 1860, and held office for one year. He had served the State as Governor previously for one year, being elected in September, 1852. His second administration was attended with the most important questions that had occurred since Vermont's admission into the Union. The announcement of secession and adoption of ordinances of state sovereignty was a realization that Governor Fairbanks did not expect, and was very slow to believe though treasonable would culminate in war.

Therefore, when the first hostile shell that was sent hissing and screeching over the blue waters of Charleston Harbor in the early gray of morning against Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861, Vermont was not prepared to respond as promptly to President Lincoln's first call for troops as other states. However, this overt and wicked act dispelled every doubt and aroused the Governor to immediate action that Vermont might be ready to respond when called upon. Governor Fairbanks was a fine Christian gentleman and of the old type of highly honorable citizens and as firm and steadfast in his convictions of right and wrong as the green hills among which he lived.

The people of Vermont as with a single voice rose to the importance and necessity of strenuous action, party lines found no place among the people, only one thought animated all. namely, suppress the rebellion and punish the traitors.

Governor Fairbanks now issued a proclamation calling a special session of the Legislature which was the first of any governor convening its Legislature to prepare for war. And from this time until the close of his term of office, none more assiduously applied honest effort and devotion that his state might be ready to respond to each and every call promptly, and to the uttermost discharged every duty in order that the dark and wicked scheme of treason might be destroyed, the Union preserved and the reputation of the Green Mountain State sustained.

He entertained the hope that the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 troops would be sufficient to restore peace and order. So sanguine was his conviction that war would be ended in 90 days, that he disbanded a company recruited by W.D. Munson of Colchester for artillery service, thinking it unnecessary to be at the expense to purchase cannon and otherwise equip for the field.

It is proper to here state that Governor Fairbanks both in and out of office put forth his great influence financially and otherwise in prosecution of the war until the enemy was subdued and peace declared. While he was not the most able of Vermont's distinguished Governors, yet he was second to none in philanthropy as evidenced by his many generous bequests. His administration was creditable, patriotic and satisfactory. He stood high in the estimation of all Vermonters, and maintained this reputation to the end of life.
~ History of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, written in 1910 by Ralph Orson Sturtevant, pages 12 & 13.

You can visit the memorial page for Erastus Fairbanks.

Lincoln, Abraham - 1865

War President of the United States, 1861-1865

Abraham Lincoln was a self-made man, born in obscurity, reared in poverty, and unaided, forged his way from a log hut in the wilderness of Kentucky, onward and upward, until he attained the Presidency of the great American Republic. He was inaugurated March 4th, 1861, assassinated April 14th, 1865, only a few days subsequent to the surrender of the Confederate Armies and declaration of peace.

He was twice elected President of the United States of America, and successfully sailed the Ship of State through the tempestuous seas of secession and rebellion, and with patriotic courage and devotion, and masterful ability overcame and subdued the most gigantic inter-necine war of history. He was a man of the people, the conspicuous commoner of his generation magnanimous, honest, and born with a heart that ever pulsated with sorrow for the unfortunate, and distressed. His lofty ambition culminated in the immortal proclamation of the Emancipation of American Slavery. No man ever accomplished so much for the immortal principles of humanity and justice.

He still lives in the hearts of all that hate bondage and love liberty, and will until the end of time. His sublime conviction of right and wrong, his noble aspirations, his mighty grasp of the great problems that agitated the public conscience and the affairs of government, and threatened to assail and dissolve the union pre-eminently qualified President Lincoln for the herculean and super-human task of saving the Union. This great man of the Republic from early manhood had given his brilliant mind to the careful study of the questions so forcibly expressed in the Constitution that bound us together, that made him above all men of his day the safe commander of the Ship of State. His brilliant career, and what he did, unquestionably gives him a place second to none of the great and distinguished Presidents of the United States of America.

He zealously sought to be right and just and had the courage of his convictions. His life and character has ever been, and will continue to be the inspiration for the youth of this land to emulate and magnify.

Such men leave behind them a legacy of inestimable and imperishable value. The goal of his sublime ambition was equality and justice. These immortal attributes prompted and controlled his public and private life. This great leader of the Republican Party as President of the United States so directed the affairs of government in the early days of his administration, when assailed by treason and almost overcome by disaster and discouragement, as to save and preserve the Union. His conduct of the war fully justifies the statement that he was the foremost man of his day and generation. He was truly called for the great work he accomplished.

His solicitude and great anxiety during the Gettysburg Campaign, his wrestling with the God of battles for victory, demonstrated his sublime faith in an overruling Providence. He was a Christian Hero and believed in the efficacy of prayer. His glorious memory, his deeds, will be cherished by all true patriots for ever and ever. He had accomplished his divine mission. His work was finished and he was prepared for the great and awful sacrifice on the altar of his country.

Not one of all the good and distinguished men of this mighty and magnificient Republic has left behind a more inspiring and elevating influence upon the world than Abraham Lincoln. His greatness is measured by the needs of the whole human family to hasten the day of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.
~ History of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, written in 1910 by Ralph Orson Sturtevant, pages 10 & 11.

You can visit the memorial page for Abraham Lincoln.