Native Vermonter Aldace Freeman Walker, valedictorian of Middlebury College's Class of 1862, future lawyer and Chairman of the Board of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, gave his commencement speech in the uniform of a First Lieutenant, U.S. Volunteers, and promptly set off for war. After nearly a month of initial training in Brattleboro, Vermont, Walker's regiment, the Eleventh Vermont Infantry, arrived at the Seat of War in early September 1862. For the next twenty months Walker and his regiment occupied the forts in the northeastern quadrant of the Defenses of Washington, drilling socializing and fretting that the war might pass them by.
in mid-May, 1864, as Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac began the bloody Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, the Vermont "Heavies," as they came to be known, were called up to active campaigning, joined the famous "Old Vermont Brigade," in the Sixth Corps, and participated in every battle of that unit from Spotsylvania until the end of the war.
Walker's 288 letters to his parents and younger sister are regular, often long, and always lucid and opinionated, Historian Benjamin Franklin Cooling III, who has written extensively on the defenses of Washington during the Civil War, opined that " no better account of the 'life and times' of junior officers in the wartime defenses of Washington remains" than Walker's letters home.
Tom Ledoux is a Green Mountain Boy, a 7th-generation Vermonter, currently residing in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Mr. Ledoux is the creator and webmaster of an award-winning Internet project, "Vermont in the Civil War," a grassroots effort to document online the Green Mountain State's role in the War of Rebellion.
Living south of the Mason-Dixon Line provides frequent opportunities for him to visit the majority of the battlefields where Vermonters fought during the war.
A 26-years U.S. Navy veteran, Mr. Ledoux is a 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland University College, and a graduate of American Military University, Manassas, Virginia, where he was awarded a Master of Arts in Military Studies (Civil War Studies) in December 2001.
Mr. Ledoux is currently working two additional volumes; "Vermont's Rebel Heroine, Revisited," an anthology of letters, publications, legends and myths about one of the most endearing stories to come out of the Civil War, and a history of the First Artillery, Eleventh Vermont Volunteers, the largest unit fielded by Vermont during the Civil War.