Savas Beatie, 2016, 342 pp., $32.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Oftentimes, when we study this conflict, the most reliable primary sources which I have read have been letters, mostly between either lovers or married couples. Today’s book presents the letters between a Civil War Captain and a woman whom he was courting. Throughout these accounts, I found some of the most interesting writings about the time of Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign as a primary source that I have seen in a long time. Gene Barr has done a great service by bringing these letters to the light of Civil War Scholarship. In the long run, I do believe that these letters will be looked at when studying the campaigns listed above and the time between.
Gene Barr is the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. He has spent most of his life in the political and government affairs world, including twelve years with a Fortune 100 energy company. It is the largest broad-based business advocacy group in the state. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He also serves on the board and is a former chair of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A Civil War Captain and His Lady is the first book he has written.
This is an interesting book, most likely I will not be reviewing another like it in some time. The book covers the relationship between Josiah Moore and Jennie Lindsay. Josiah is a Captain in the 17th Illinois infantry and Jennie is a member of one of the most prominent families in Illinois. But this book is not just their letters which showcase the love they had for one another, this collection also showcases some of the actions which the 17th Illinois faced. Jennie’s letter writing also shows the reader that the role of the sweetheart writing to the soldier in the war was an important one. The encouragement in her letters, the language she uses in these writings shows the level of hardship with not only Josiah in the war, but her brother as well. Josiah’s letters show the reader quite a bit about the life of a soldier and the engagements which they were a part of. This publication of the 17th Illinois’ actions throughout the time of Fort Donelson to Vicksburg give a new perspective of that unit in the war, and this includes the Meridian Campaign which has been highly ignored.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Western Theater of the war. I also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the letter writing between the war and homefront. This is not just about two lovers sending messages back and forth; it is about the toll that it takes not only on their lives, but on the lives of the loved ones around them. In a way, these letters are fascinating on a different level and as I said before, I don’t think I’ll be reviewing another book like this one for quite some time. Highly recommended.