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James Marsh Read Papers

Identifier: mss-483

Scope and Content Note

The materials in the collection span from 1848-2004, with the bulk between the years 1848-1866. The collection contains two series, the first being material created by and about James M. Read himself; the second being comprised of donor-generated material.

The first series consists primarily of correspondence between James and his family, mostly during the years he was on expedition or at war. This series also contains critical essays written by James about various issues of the times; maps sketched by James himself; some of James’ military, school and financial records; a portion of the diary James kept while at war; a fragment of a flag carried on the battle field; and collected newspaper clippings about the progress of the war.

The second series consists of material created or collected by the donor of the collection, Gretchen Howe Miller. Within is a manuscript written by Gretchen H. Miller that transcribes James’ correspondence and links it together with background information. This series also contains brochures collected from various preserved Civil War battlefields, notes and photocopies of research on Vermont history and the Civil War, as well as genealogical information about James M. Read’s lineage. Also included is the correspondence Gretchen H. Miller kept while she was working on her manuscript.


  • 1848-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1848 - 1866



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biograpical Note

James Marsh Read was born November 19th, 1833 in St. Albans, Vermont, the first born son to the family. The family relocated to Burlington, Vermont during James’ childhood. James began his formal education at the age of fifteen, culminating in a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1853.

Upon graduation, James moved around the country looking for work opportunities. He finally took a position as an assistant with an expedition that bored wells along a route from Texas to New Mexico. James continued on these western expeditions for three years, at which point he returned to his family home in Vermont.

In 1861, James answered a call for volunteer soldiers in the Civil War. His first enlistment lasted three months; he then re-enlisted for three more years. James performed secretarial duties for the Tenth Vermont Infantry Regiment, ultimately being promoted to Adjutant on February 24th, 1865.

Less than two months later, James was wounded in the final Battle of Petersburg. His right foot was amputated, and he died only a few days after, on the evening of April 5th, 1865.

For further reading, please consult the biographical note about James M. Read on the Vermont in the Civil War website:


1.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



James Marsh Read (1833-1865), an 1853 graduate of the University of Vermont, was an explorer of the American West and a Civil War soldier. He wrote critical essays about the events of the time and kept extensive correspondence with his family. These materials are combined with the collected research and manuscript of the collection’s donor, Gretchen Howe Miller, providing insight into James M. Read’s life and the issues of this period in American and Vermont history.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the James Marsh Read Papers
Sally Blanchard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)