SIU Department Name | Page Title

siu logo siupress logo

SIU logo

Banner

Main Content Area

In Their Letters, in Their Words

In Their Letters, in Their Words

Illinois Civil War Soldiers Write Home

Add to Cart

Edited by Mark Flotow

$26.50

Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
978-0-8093-3763-7
304 pages, 6 x 9, 12 illustrations
11/04/2019

 

Additional Materials

About the Book

A vital lifeline to home during the Civil War, the letters of soldiers to their families and friends remain a treasure for those seeking to connect with and understand the most turbulent period of American history. Rather than focus on the experiences of a few witnesses, this impressively researched book documents 165 Illinois Civil War soldiers’ and sailors’ lives through the lens of their personal letters. Editor Mark Flotow chose a variety of letter writers who hailed from counties throughout the state, served in different branches of the military at different ranks, and represented the gamut of social experiences and war outcomes.

Flotow provides extensive quotations from the letters. By allowing the soldiers to speak for themselves, he captures what mattered most to them. Illinois soldiers wrote about their reasons for enlisting; the nature of training and duties; necessities like eating, sleeping, marching, and making the best of often harsh and chaotic circumstances; Southern culture; slavery; their opinions of commanding officers and the president; disease, medicine, and hospitals; their prisoner-of-war experiences; and the ways they left the army. Through letters from afar, many soldiers sought to manage their homes and farms, while some single men attempted to woo their sweethearts.

Flotow includes brief biographies for each soldier quoted in the book, weaves historical context and analysis with the letters, and organizes them by topic. Thus, intimate details cited in individual letters reveal their significance for those who lived and shaped this tumultuous era. The result is not only insightful history but also compelling reading.
 

Authors/Editors

Mark Flotow is the retired director of the Illinois Center for Health Statistics and is a former president of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems. He is an adjunct research associate in anthropology at the Illinois State Museum and a volunteer interviewer with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s oral history program. Flotow has published articles about Illinois Civil War soldiers in Illinois Heritage and has given many presentations on the topic.