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Chester Leach Papers

Identifier: mss-717

Scope and Content Note

The collection of Chester Leach’s papers contains correspondence, diaries, militia papers, schoolwork and more. The correspondence focuses on his time in the Civil War and the diaries focus on his time at home, after the war until his death in 1909. His collection of papers gives valuable insight into the Civil War, Vermont politics, and farm life,.

The vast majority of the correspondence Chester sent during the Civil War was to his wife, Ann (boxes 1 and 2). These date from June 1861 to three days before he was mustered out of service, June 26th 1864. They were sent, for the most part, at least twice a week to Ann and they provide valuable understanding of camp life, health, hospitals, and battles. The letters discuss various battles and the general health and problems that an officer would find in the field. They give glimpses into the emotional world of a husband and wife that have been separated for more than three years by war.

The diaries (boxes 3 and 4) were kept after he was mustered out in June of 1864 until 1908, the year before his death. He had no reason to write to his wife so very little correspondence is found after the war. They are about every day labors and purchases, illustrating what it took to keep a farm running. They also acted as Chester’s accounting books. The diary series also includes a volume pertaining to civic and judicial fields that Chester partook in.

The final two boxes contain a variety of documents, including official militia documents, schoolwork from his son, and deeds and receipts from his various purchases. The two main portions of these boxes are the official military documents and the school work of his son Byron. The military documents cover his entire career as an officer and gives lists of casualties, inventories, purchases, and more about his unit, Company H of the 2nd Vermont Volunteers. They show how inventorying was completed, rosters of men kept, and how equipment was handled in the Union Army. His son’s schoolwork is notable, as Byron died at a young age. There is also a great deal of civic paperwork including deeds, patents, school documents, business cards, judicial records, commissioning papers and more.

In addition, there are three photo albums and a letter book. The photo albums vary in content. One has a majority of photos from men in uniform while the others have a variety of people. They give faces to the names of the people Chester talks about in his papers. The letter book is a handwritten book that has every single one of Chester’s letters rewritten from his first letter in June 1861 to Mid-August of 1862.


  • 1853-1917



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.

Biographical Note

Chester Leach was a farmer and Civil War officer born and raised in Fletcher, Vermont. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he and many others from his home town enlisted into the 2nd Regiment of the Vermont Volunteers. He became an officer, 2nd lieutenant, in Company H. Leach went on to fight in many battles including the first battle of Bull Run in 1861, Antietam in 1862, Gettysburg in 1863, and Rappahannock Station in 1863. His regiment sustained more losses than any other regiment in the entirety of the Union Army. But he was one of the only officers in Vermont to join the war in its beginning and serve for three years without being wounded once. He mustered out in June of 1864 as a 1st lieutenant.

After the war, Chester went home to his farm and family: Ann and his children Justin, Zelia, Byron, and more. He continued to serve in the 1st Regiment of the Vermont Militia and became a Lieutenant Colonel. He was active in civic and judicial arenas where he would serve as justice of peace, state legislator, constable, tax collector and more for his town and courts. He was also very active in the educational system around Fletcher. He died in 1909 and is buried in Fletcher.


3.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes, 1 cartons)

Language of Materials



Collection contains letters written from Leach, a Vermont farmer, to his wife in Fletcher, VT, during his service in the Civil War, military papers, school papers of a son, legal papers, diaries, and three photo albums of family members and Civil War Soldiers, documenting the family's domestic and military activities throughout the latter half of the 19th c.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Chester Leach Papers
Fred Torde
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

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)