• Students at South Peak

    Marsh - Billings - Rockefeller

    National Historical Park Vermont

Civil War Home Front Walking Tour

Standing next to an old brick and white clapboard house, a park ranger talks with 11 people.

NPS Photo

This walking tour, piloted in the fall of 2003, is the only interpretive program in the National Park System devoted to the civilian experience of the Civil War. "There are 38 units of our national park system interpreting the American Civil War," according to Dwight Pitcaithley, former NPS Chief Historian. "What makes the Woodstock tour so important is that it [is] the first-ever exclusively focused on the Home Front and the broader social context of the war. This is ground-breaking."

For tour times, please click here or call 802-457-3368 ext 22.

Find information and download the park's app A Walk Through Vermont's Civil War Home Front

 
Detail of soldiers from the sculpted Shaw Memorial of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

NPS Photo

Woodstock was one of the most important home front communities in Vermont during the Civil War, a conflict in which Vermont played an outsized role given its modest size and population. "You can't have Gettysburg, Antietam and Manassas without Woodstocks," says Howard Coffin, a Woodstock native and author of three books on Vermont's Civil War history. "I don't know a better place in the northern states to examine home front history."

Most of the buildings along the tour route through the village center were standing when the first shot was fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861. The tour route includes some of the most significant historic sites in Woodstock. For example:

 
This yellow-brick house with white trim and black shutters stands proudly in the winter sun.

NPS Photo

Home of Senator Jacob Collamer: Collamer worked tirelessly in the years before the Civil War to achieve a compromise that would hold the union together. During the war he was an outspoken supporter of the Lincoln Administration and argued for equal pay for Woodstock's African-American soldiers.
 
Looking from below, the steeple of this white wooden church is framed by the leafless branches of a nearby tree.

NPS Photo

Woodstock First Congregational Church: In 1836, the congregation passed a resolution saying "We consider slavery as it exists in the United States a violation of the law of God altogether and at variance with our Declaration of Independence."
 
A three-story brick building lines the downtown streets of Woodstock.

NPS Photo

Adjutant General Peter Washburn's Office: Once the center of Vermont's Civil War mobilization, "the Pentagon of Vermont" is located above what is now a local pharmacy. From here, recruitment needs, calls for supplies and casualty lists were sent out to every corner of the state.
 
Black and white image of sunlight and shadows falling on old headstones.

NPS Photo

River Street Cemetery: Final resting place for many of Woodstock's 284 Union Army veterans, including graves belonging to the 39 young men who died during the war. Also dispersed throughout the cemetery are the gravestones of 11 African-American veterans who fought with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, immortalized forever by the great American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the film Glory.
 
Three story brick mansion with wide porch, white trim, tall chimneys, shrubs and green lawn.

NPS Photo

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park: Boyhood home of conservationist George Perkins Marsh, who argued the Union cause in Europe as Lincoln's ambassador to Italy. The property later passed into the hands of Frederick Billings, whose circle of friends successfully pressed for the preservation of Yosemite in the midst of the Civil War - a monument to national unity and the cornerstone of a postwar republic strengthened by conservation and national parks.



Civil War Home Front Walking Tour brochure, Causes & Consequences (pdf - 870kb) (PDF files require Adobe Reader for viewing. Download it for free here.)



For tour times, please click here or call 802-457-3368 ext 22.

Did You Know?

In this sepia-toned photo from 1927, nine men sit and kneel amongst the ruins of a Native American dwelling at Mesa Verde. NPS Photo.

As a teenager, Laurance S. Rockefeller toured Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde with Horace Albright. Later in life, Laurance would donate lands to create Virgin Islands NP and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP. He was the first conservationist to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.