Yankee Correspondence: Civil War Letters between New England Soldiers and the Home Front

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Yankee Correspondence: Civil War Letters between New England Soldiers and the Home Front. Ed. Nina Silber and Mary Beth Stevens. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1996. A volume in the series A Nation Divided: New Studies in Civil War History.

One of the most valuable tools historians have at their disposal in studying the sociological impact of the Civil War is the enormous number of letters written by the soldiers and their families. Nina Silber, in her lengthy and fascinating introduction to this book, states the Civil War "unleashed a veritable onslaught on the U.S. postal system." Roughly 90,000 letters passed through the postal system in Washington, D.C., on a daily basis, going to or from Union troops in the east. The same amount is estimated to have been routed daily to or from Union troops in the west. The Confederacy also contributed large amounts of mail every day, often through war-ravaged cities and towns. This plethora of mail contributed greatly to the odds of so many letters surviving the war.

This slim book is dedicated to filling a gap in the history of specific Civil War participants and their families... that of the stories of New England soldiers. The astute research and editing of Silber and Stevens gives us a collection of letters, most of which never have been published, that shed a solid light on the intimate thoughts of the letter writers, be they soldiers, wives, parents, business partners or friends. The book is divided into six chapters with letters grouped together by the general theme of the letter. …