Civil War Bible

Teaching with Curated Collections

Civil War Bible

Tracking down the details of history can be very frustrating and very satisfying, depending on what you find. This Bible, and the furlough document found inside, provide an interesting case.

The Bible was found on an unidentified battlefield and eventually donated to the Minnesota Historical Society. The inscription on the cover mentions "Arron M. Burdick, 5th Reg't Wisc. Vols. Enrolled 22nd of May, 1861." Further research showed that the Fifth Wisconsin didn't muster in until July 12, 1861. Yet Burdick's furlough document, found inside the Bible, granted him five days' leave, from July 6-10, 1861. The Bible inscription also says that Burdick was discharged on September 5, 1862, with a surgeon's certificate. The Fifth participated in five battles before that date, so the Bible was likely found at one of those locations.

But the record states that the Bible was found by Willoby Vaughn, and the only person of that name to serve in the Civil War was in the Seventh Vermont. The Fifth Wisconsin and the Seventh Vermont did not cross paths at a battle at any point.

Another man named Willoughby Vaughan, an immigrant from Canada, lived in Sibley and McLeod counties during and after the war. While it doesn't seem that he served in the war, he lived in an adjacent county to Aaron Burdick when he moved to Minnesota in the 1870s.

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