The Civil War has long fascinated scholars and the public. The scholarship ranges from biographies on famous generals like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant all the way down to local histories focused on privates in both armies. Millions of letters from thousands of soldiers allow historians to create narratives based on the lived experiences of those who wrote them. With the overwhelming amount of primary sources, many stories go untold. Some of these untold stories have roots at Union College. The war experience of Edward Hastings Ripley, class of 1862, reflects this void.
My research on Edward H. Ripley focuses primarily on his time during the American Civil War and how his experiences reflect larger narratives and themes from the war. I explore the rise of Edward’s patriotism following the attack on Fort Sumter, his frustration over the lack of military success, and his final achievement of bringing order to the fallen capital of the Confederacy at the end of the war. Edward rose from a low ranking captain in a Vermont regiment to a general tasked with the duty of restoring peace to an occupied city. Edward’s story offers readers a fresh perspective on the bloodiest conflict on American soil and an insight into the life of a Union College alum.