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Posted on Friday, January 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

ReviewsLincoln’s Generals Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War – for Better or Worse
-Book review by Carol Campbell

Women profiled in Lincoln’s Generals Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War – for Better or Worse, include Jessie Freemont, Ellen Sherman, Julia Grant, and Nelly McClellan.  This book’s subtitle — Four Women who Influenced the Civil War for Better and for Worse – and the well written introduction provide an excellent beginning to the ladies’ stories.    The author, Candice Shy Hooper, begins this fascinating study of General’s wives with the interesting tale of Jessie Benton Freemont.  Jessie Freemont is described by the author (along with “Mary Ellen ‘Nelly’ Marcy McClellan, Ellen Ewing Sherman, and Julia Dent Grant) as “tough, fearless women” [Pg. 4].

We can learn a great deal from the stories of Jessie, Ellen, Julia, and Nelly.  Each of these women contributed to their husbands’ successes and failures: each trusted and admired their President, and each played a significant role in our nation’s history.

Title: Lincoln’s Generals Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War – for Better or Worse
Author: Candice Sky Hooper
Publisher: The Kent State University Press
Pages: 439
Price: $39.95
Soft Cover

A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat from Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign
-Book review by Carol Campbell

A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat from Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign, skillfully researched and written by Gene Barr, tells the story of Josiah Moore’s journey through the American Civil War with the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry.  Seventeen chapters, multiple maps, numerous photographs and images help the author tell the love story of Josiah and the lovely Jane Elizabeth Lindsay.

This Civil War story begins on April 20, 1861, in a small Illinois town called Monmouth.  The local newspaper, the Atlas, had announced a meeting would take place in the local courthouse for the formation of a unit to help stop the Southern states’ rebellion.  Students from the local college also gathered at the courthouse.  The author points out that Monmouth College, a Presbyterian institution located in Warren County, “was noteworthy” because females were also admitted.

The author used an interesting format to tell their story of the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry – brief inserts of narrative combined with letters to and from the protagonists: Josiah Moore and Jane Elizabeth Lindsay.  He also indicates that the letters provide a viewpoint on mid-Nineteenth Century courtship.  These letters also bring local and national politics to the forefront.  Jennie’s father was a member of the Illinois Senate, and actually was considered a Peace Democrat or Copperhead, which may have caused some conflict within the Lindsay’s home.   A significant age difference could have added to the Lindsay’s family difficulties with Josiah’s interest in their daughter as he was eight years older than Jennie.  Another potential difficulty was Josiah’s nationality.  Though long a resident of Illinois, Josiah’s original homeland was Ireland.

The truly unfortunate aspect of this wonderful love story is that no Seventeenth Illinois Regimental History has been published.  However, the author, Gene Barr, did an excellent job searching through both published and unpublished materials to locate information relating to the unit’s western service during the Civil War.  Barr is to be complimented on his careful research relating to the western Civil War units and battles!

The collection of letters begin on June 26, 1961 with Josiah’s “Dear Lady” salutation:  Jennie answers from Peoria on July 11, 1861, addressing her “Dear Friend” [Pgs. 27-29].  Just over a year later, on August 19th, Jennie continues to address her “Dear Friend” but closes this particular epistle with “Yours ever” [Pgs. 125-126].  By June of 1863, Josiah has progressed to “My Dear Jennie” yet Jennie’s answering letter continues with “Dear Friend” [Pgs. 222-229].  By 1864, Jennie’s letters seem to have been lost as Josiah’s letters continue and begin with “My Dearly Beloved” or more simply “Beloved friend”.  That enough letters survived from that time period to tell this love story is delightful!

The series of letters include local information as well as war-time battles and efforts to end the long Civil War.  Near the end of June, 1864, Josiah has served is enlistment period and is back in Hanover, Illinois.  He writes Jennie that he regrets not being able to talk with her father but plans to speak with him.  Included in a footnote is the author’s speculation that Josiah’s regret in not being able to talk with Jennie’s father indicates that “. . . Mr. Lindsay almost certainly referred to his intention to ask for Jennie’s hand in marriage” [Pg. 295].   Only days after his military service ended, Josiah – still in uniform – married Jennie at the Lindsay’s home.  Yet another separation began shortly after their marriage – Josiah returned to Monmouth College to complete his undergraduate degree, toiled through and received his master’s degree, and then remained to complete the college’s degree in seminary studies [Pg. 305].  Though she visited Josiah at Monmouth College, Jennie’s primary location was Peoria until June of 1867 [Pg. 305].

During the Post-War years, Josiah served a variety of Illinois’ Presbyterian churches and a brief time as a missionary in Missouri.  The couple had six children but lost two through early deaths.  In later years, Josiah served as the chaplain for the Grand Army of the Republic in Illinois.  As he aged, Josiah suffered from health issues relating to his Civil War service and applied for a soldier’s pension under the June 27, 1890 Pension Act [Pg. 312].   Josiah died in February, 1897, and was buried in Peoria, Illinois.  Jennie’s death occurred in October of 1924 and she was buried in “. . . suburban Chicago” [Pg. 316].  Post-Civil War, Josiah had invested carefully and bequeathed to Jennie an estate valued around $13,000.  She also received a widow’s pension amounting to $12.00 each month [Pg. 316].  According to the author, no one knows why this truly devoted couple were buried so far apart.

In A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat from Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign, the author, Gene Barr, takes the reader into the dangers of the western region during the first years of America’s Civil War and counters that dangerous situation with the peaceful life in Illinois.  In telling Josiah’s and Jennie’s stories through their letters — enhanced by his careful research — the author has written an exciting and wonderful story of a love that persisted through adversity and loneliness.

I can easily admit that I have read hundreds of books written about the American Civil War, and that I own many more of those enjoyable books than I should.  However, most Civil War books just tell the reader of the war, of important leaders, or of significant battles.  Gene Barr has added another dimension in that he pulls the reader into the maelstrom of battle, the boredom endured during the long siege at Vicksburg, the poignant loss of friends and loved ones, and the longing for one’s beloved – each so very close to the other’s heart but still physically so far away.

Title: A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat
From Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign
Author: Gene Barr
Publisher:  Savas Beaty
Pages: 316
Price:  32.95