A Civil War Nurse falls in love with “Uncle Sam”


Sergeant Major
Aug 6, 2016

George W. Young (1839-1928)
This love story begins in a Kingdom; the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (referred to as the NEK). It comprises the three northeastern counties of Vermont and was so named when Governor George Aiken was visiting during a political appearance on March 24th 1949. But many years earlier love was blooming and when the story was passed down among the relatives it involved a future Civil War army nurse and Vermont’s own Original “Uncle Sam”.​


In a tiny corner in the NEK lies the town of Holland. According to the census in 1840, the town boasted a population of 605 and in November of the following year it increased by one more when Lucy Newton was born. As a child she lived in the St. Johnsbury/Waterford Vermont area where she attended school. ​


Lucy Newton (1841-1917)
(Public Domain)

She was living near the old fairgrounds that had been converted during the early months of the Civil War as a training camp for Vermont boys, when the call went out:

“A few good discreet nurses under the management of one of their own sex, and she herself cooperating with, and under the direction of the Surgeon, seems imperatively needed. A mother’s hand to smoothe the fevered brow, and administer food, would be of more avail than an army of mere surgeons without them.” {1}

Captain Veazey was in charge of commanding the raw recruits. In that camp, which eventually was named the Vermont 3rd, contained two notable young recruits. William “Willie” Johnston was there with his father and was a drummer boy, as was William Scott who went on into history forever known as “The Sleeping Sentinel”. It was at Camp Baxter where Lucy watched the soldiers training and began visiting with some of the wives that had journeyed with their husbands. She heard the call for nurses and the nineteen year old decided to join the Union Army serving in that capacity.

On July 24, 1861 the regiment headed to Washington with Miss Newton accompanying them as a nurse. As the Johnston sisters who accompanied the Vermont 4th described the arrival of the Vermont nurses:​

“They served as nurses at Camp Griffin, but as soon as possible
a hospital was established a few miles from camp in a deserted house.”

On September 11 of 1861, the third Vermont was involved in the skirmish at Lewinsville. Although there were deaths and injuries the most prevalent condition during those early months was illness.

For the next seven months Lucy Newton cared for her soldiers. From Camp Griffin in Virginia she also made her way to Camp Advance as well as Maryland’s Camp Lyon. When she returned home after her service when it was said of Lucy she "nursed many a sick soldier back to life and health” {2}. ​


Charles Young was born a scant five miles southeast from St. Johnsbury on August 2, 1839. He spent most of his life in and around this area. He once claimed that he attended the first cattle fair ever held in the area and only missed one in all the years . He and Lucy met and married on April 25, 1864 in St. Johnsbury and after their wedding they headed to Detroit where Mr. Young was employed in the cattle yards. {4}

After the war they eventually made their way back and settled in the St. Johnsbury/Waterford area where he resumed his love of farming. On January 8, 1894, Lucy applied for and received a pension for her time as an army nurse. They celebrated fifty-three years of marriage and were parents of six children; four sons and two daughters.

As he grew older, George Young dressed in the character of “Uncle Sam” making his own uniform as he posed for pictures. He is known as the first original “Uncle Sam” of Vermont. He loved to pose in his “Uncle Sam” attire with friends, family and neighbors, always with his “basket of potatoes”.​



They celebrated 53 years together when Mrs. Young passed away on October 8, 1917. She was seventy-five years of age. Her husband saw eighty-eight years before he joined her in death on May 20, 1928. They are buried in Grove Cemetery in their beloved St. Johnsbury, Vermont.​


Mr. & Mrs. George Young

The Third Vermont Regiment, formed on that July day in 1861 numbered one thousand, eight hundred and nine {7}. Willie Johnston remains to this day the youngest Medal of Honor Recipient from his actions during the Union Retreat at Harrison’s Landing when he held on to his drum while soldiers around him were dropping their weapons. he was all of eleven years and eleven months of age.

They lost a total of three-hundred and seventy-one men. Killed in the line of duty were five officers and two-hundred and one enlisted men. Disease killed one officer and one-hundred and sixty-four. Included in the total is William Scott, “The Sleeping Sentinel”, mortally wounded during the Battle of Lee’s Mills. He passed away on April 17, 1862 and was twenty-three years old.​


3rd Vermont Regiment at Attention July, 1861
Camp Baxter, St. Johnsbury, VT
Photo - University of Vermont

Photos designated with an * courtesy of Shelley Newland, her great-grandmother and
her great-grandmother’s aunt and uncle; Charles and Lucy Young.

* * * * *

1. https://www.dinosaursofgardenpark.org/amanda-enters-the-war-1861/
2. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/74688507/lucy-a-young
3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/74687347/george-w-young
4. Saint Johnsbury Caledonian, April 29, 1914 (Link)
5. https://www.vermontcivilwar.org/get.php?input=82130
6. https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UVT0003RI