Exploring the Civil War

Exploring the Civil War

Letters and Diaries

The Soldier's Pen: Firsthand Impressions of the Civil War

cover photo: The Soldier's Pen: Firsthand Impressions of the Civil War by Robert E. Bonner 973.7409 B71s

Bonner uses the letters, journal entries, and sketches of sixteen Civil War infantrymen to knit together a ground-level view of the War. The documents represent men from both the North and the South and different walks of life in letters to wives and sweethearts, in letters about the monotony of camp life, and the most disturbing and poignant images conveyed by those who describe battles and their aftermath.

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For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

cover photo: For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James M. McPherson 973.7 M17f

A grunt's-eye account from both Yankee and Confederate soldiers using their diaries and letters to answer the eternal question: "Why, despite frequent opportunities, did they not all cut and run for home despite the high odds against coming out safely?"

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Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea

cover photo: Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea by Noah Andre Trudeau 973.7378 T86s

Veteran troops from Massachusetts to Minnesota present the inner dynamics of one of the finest armies the U.S. has ever fielded through letters and diaries depicting Sherman's legendary and devastating March through Georgia in the fall of 1864.

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The Private Mary Chesnut: The Unpublished Civil War Diaries

cover photo: The Private Mary Chesnut: The Unpublished Civil War Diaries by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut 973.782 C52p

The ideal diarist, Mary Chesnut was the daughter of one senator from South Carolina and wife of another, had kin and friends all over the Confederacy. At Montgomery when the new nation was founded, at Charleston when the war started, and at Richmond during many crises, she traveled extensively during the war and left the most vivid account we have of the death throes of a society.

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A Woman's Civil War: A Diary with Reminiscences of the War from March 1862

cover photo: A Woman's Civil War: A Diary with Reminiscences of the War from March 1862 by Cornelia Peake McDonald 973.782 M13w

At the urging of her husband, a Confederate Army soldier, McDonald began keeping a diary of life on the home front in Winchester, Virginia. Unlike the journals of Mary Chestnut, which describe the public experience of the war, this diary is a piece of domestic history, about the defense of family and household. McDonald offers a refreshingly feminine perspective on an age heretofore described primarily by men.

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Alice's Tulips

cover photo: Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

When 18-year-old newlywed Alice is left alone on a small farmstead with her stern mother-in-law after her husband enlists in the Union army, quilting and writing a series of diary-letters to her sister provide solace and give an often humorous glimpse of the uncertainty and daily hardships endured by the women on the home front.

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cover photo: Homeland by Barbara Hambly

Letter-writing serves as therapy for these two women also, one a Southerner yearning to attend art school in Philadelphia and the other a Northerner whose husband is fighting for the Confederacy. Their unlikely friendship gives them the strength to survive the War as they share feelings, views of current events and accounts of their respective hardships.

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Candle in the Darkness

cover photo: Candle in the Darkness by Lynn N. Austin

Caroline, the daughter of a slave-holding family in Richmond, believes that household slaves are human beings and not mere property. She returns home after years up north and embarks on a dangerous path of spying and intrigue, recorded in the diary she has kept since the age of twelve.

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The Wind Done Gone

cover photo: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall

Imagine Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind condensed and told from the perspectives of Mammy and the Tara slaves and you have this novel. Cynara, Scarlett O'Hara's mulatto half-sister, was born out of wedlock to the white man who owned Cynara's mother. She is educated and tells her story through a diary in a South much different from Mitchell's. In Randall's novel, slaves are portrayed with much more depth of character.

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The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves

cover photo: The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves by Andrew Ward 973.711 W25s

For something new in the oft-plowed field of Civil War studies, slaves who lived through and remembered the war provide a rarely seen perspective on one of the key events in African-American history through excerpts from diaries, letters, and memoirs.

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The Children's Civil War

cover photo: The Children's Civil War by James Alan Marten 973.7083 M37c

Like the slaves, accounts of children's experiences on the home front during the Civil War are rare. In this unique study, diaries, newspaper accounts, and personal letters provide information on the effect of the war on children's relationships with their fathers and the burdensome responsibilities that children were forced to endure.

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On Agate Hill

cover photo: On Agate Hill by Lee Smith

Divorcee Tuscany Miller discovers the diary of a Civil War orphan named Molly who is driven from her home in North Carolina by the Yankees and handed around from relatives to finishing school after the War ended. Molly's own diary and the diaries of her teachers and friends form a patchwork quilt of Molly's life from birth to death.

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