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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Book News: The Vermont Brigade in the Seven Days

Regular readers know that I frequently complain about how the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days fighting continue to be neglected in comparison to other eastern theater campaigns of similar stature. My immediate reaction to seeing early notice of The Vermont Brigade in the Seven Days: The Battles and Their Personal Aftermath by Paul G. Zeller (McFarland, 2019) was "Great!," but then I thought about which Seven Days battles the brigade [Second Brigade (Brooks)/Second Division (Smith)/Sixth Corps (Franklin)] figured prominently in and couldn't come up with anything on my own beyond Savage's Station.

So I took out my trusty copy of Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles and skimmed over the maps. As far as I can tell, the Vermont Brigade held the far right flank of the Garnett's Farm position on June 27, an important post as it guarded the vital Chickahominy River bridges connecting both wings of the army during the Gaines' Mill fighting. The Vermonters were placed in a similar flank position for the following day's skirmish at Golding's Farm. As mentioned before, it was in the front line at Savage's Station on the 29th (left flank this time), and was also present at the front on the 30th at White Oak Swamp. The brigade was in reserve on July 1 at Malvern Hill. So it seems the Vermont Brigade wasn't exactly in the thick of the fight that week, but it did play an important role in some of the lesser-known actions of the Seven Days and I'm still interested in reading about those experiences.


  1. There is an enormous amount of newspaper correspondence, diaries, and letters to draw upon. Though the study might seem curious (why not the Pennsylvania regulars, for instance?), Zeller has shown in the past that he will mine the sources for new content and there's easily a book's worth of material for the unit during these battles.

    1. Yes, his 2nd and 9th Vermont regimental histories seem to have been well received. Thanks for the comment.

    2. At 137 pages it's (understandably) a bit thin. The McFarland price point on this will be influential. As you suggest, the meat of this is likely to be Savage's Station, where they actually took (IIRC) the highest number of casualties on the Union side, albeit at the end of the day's action. I'll wager fewer pages will be spent on the Green Mountain boys twiddling their thumbs at White Oak listening to snoring sounds coming from the other side of the Swamp. :)


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