front cover of I Am Fighting for the Union
I Am Fighting for the Union
The Civil War Letters of Naval Officer Henry Willis Wells
Henry Willis Wells, edited and introduced by Robert M. Browning Jr.
University of Alabama Press, 2023
An insightful, detailed, and invaluable account of daily life in the Union Navy
 
On May 18, 1862, Henry Willis Wells wrote a letter to his mother telling her in clear terms, “I am fighting for the Union.” Since August 1861, when he joined the US Navy as a master’s mate he never wavered in his loyalty. He wrote to his family frequently that he considered military service a necessary and patriotic duty, and the career that ensued was a dramatic one, astutely and articulately documented by Wells in more than 200 letters home, leaving an invaluable account of daily life in the Union Navy.

Wells joined the navy shortly after the war began, initially on board the Cambridge, attached to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which patrolled the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. He witnessed the Battle of Hampton Roads and the fight between the ironclads CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor. Next, the Cambridge assisted in the blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina. In one instance, the warship chased the schooner J. W. Pindar ashore during her attempt to run the blockade, and Confederate forces captured Henry’s boarding party. After a short prison stay in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, his Confederate captors paroled Henry. He travelled back to Brookline, and soon thereafter the Navy Department assigned him to the gunboat Ceres, which operated on the sounds and rivers of North Carolina, protecting army positions ashore. Henry was on board during the Confederate attempt to capture Washington, North Carolina. During this April 1863 attack, Henry was instrumental in the town’s defense, commanding a naval battery ashore during the latter part of the fight.

His exceptional service gained him a transfer to a larger warship, the USS Montgomery, again on the blockade of Wilmington. Later the service assigned him to the Gem of the Sea, part of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. Through his hard work and professionalism, he finally earned his first command. In September 1864, he became the commanding officer of the Rosalie, a sloop used as a tender to the local warships. Later he commanded the schooner Annie, also a tender. At the end of December 1864, however, the Annie suffered a massive explosion, killing all hands, including Wells. He was twenty-three years old when his life and career ended tragically. Wells’s letters document both his considerable achievements and his frustrations. His challenges, triumphs, and disappointments are rendered with candor. I Am Fighting for the Union is a vital and deeply personal account of a momentous chapter in the history of the Civil War and its navies.
 
[more]

front cover of I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over
I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over
First-Person Accounts of Civil War Arkansas from the Arkansas Historical Quarterly
Mark K. Christ
University of Arkansas Press, 2014
I Do Wish this Cruel War Was Over collects diaries, letters, and memoirs excerpted from their original publication in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly to offer a first-hand, ground-level view of the war's horrors, its mundane hardships, its pitched battles and languid stretches, even its moments of frivolity. Readers will find varying degrees of commitment and different motivations among soldiers on both sides, along with the perspective of civilians. In many cases, these documents address aspects of the war that would become objects of scholarly and popular fascination only years after their initial appearance: the guerrilla conflict that became the "real war" west of the Mississippi; the "hard war" waged against civilians long before William Tecumseh Sherman set foot in Georgia; the work of women in maintaining households in the absence of men; and the complexities of emancipation, which saw African Americans winning freedom and sometimes losing it all over again. Altogether, these first-person accounts provide an immediacy and a visceral understanding of what it meant to survive the Civil War in Arkansas.
[more]

front cover of I Remain Yours
I Remain Yours
Common Lives in Civil War Letters
Christopher Hager
Harvard University Press, 2018

When North and South went to war, millions of American families endured their first long separation. For men in the armies—and their wives, children, parents, and siblings at home—letter writing was the sole means to communicate. Yet for many of these Union and Confederate families, taking pen to paper was a new and daunting task. I Remain Yours narrates the Civil War from the perspective of ordinary people who had to figure out how to salve the emotional strain of war and sustain their closest relationships using only the written word.

Christopher Hager presents an intimate history of the Civil War through the interlaced stories of common soldiers and their families. The previously overlooked words of a carpenter from Indiana, an illiterate teenager from Connecticut, a grieving mother in the mountains of North Carolina, and a blacksmith’s daughter on the Iowa prairie reveal through their awkward script and expression the personal toll of war. Is my son alive or dead? Returning soon or never? Can I find words for the horrors I’ve seen or the loneliness I feel? Fear, loss, and upheaval stalked the lives of Americans straining to connect the battlefront to those they left behind.

Hager shows how relatively uneducated men and women made this new means of communication their own, turning writing into an essential medium for sustaining relationships and a sense of belonging. Letter writing changed them and they in turn transformed the culture of letters into a popular, democratic mode of communication.

[more]

logo for Northwestern University Press
I Rest My Case
Mark Verstandig
Northwestern University Press, 2002
Mark Verstandig's compelling epic spans pre-Holocaust Jewish culture in Eastern Europe and its post-war reformation in Australia.

His personal story interweaves the vast forces of politics and history with intimate details of the shtetl--from the pre-war intricacies of Galician society and the textures of a traditional Jewish education, to the agonizing contradictions of Polish-Jewish relations and the complexities of post-war Jewish politics.

His account of the displaced persons camps where 'transit Jews' awaited their chance to emigrate is a signifigant contribution to a little-known aspect of post-war history.

With his gift for observation and his acute powers of analysis, Mark Verstandig has achieved the rare feat of telling the story of his people through his own history. Part autobiography, part Holocaust literature, part sociological analysis, I Rest my Case is a fine achievement.
[more]

front cover of In Her Father's Eyes
In Her Father's Eyes
A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust
Weichherz, Béla
Rutgers University Press, 2008
Translated from the German for the first time, In Her Father's Eyes is the diary of Béla Weichherz, in which he documents the life of his only daughter, Kitty, in prewar Czechoslovakia. Started as a baby book before her birth in 1929, the journal contains frequent entries about the ups and downs of Kitty's childhood, often written in vivid detail. Weichherz included photographs, developmental charts, and Kitty's own drawings to enhance the text. The journal entries stop in early spring 1942, just days before the family's deportation to a Nazi death camp. In its final pages, a recognizable tale of one anonymous life becomes a heartbreaking story about how anti-Semitism and nationalism in Slovakia shattered this normalcy.

In Her Father's Eyes is a moving tale about Jewish life and a father's profound love for his only child. By bridging prewar and wartime periods, the diary also provides a rich context for understanding the history from which the Holocaust emerged.

[more]

front cover of In Isolation
In Isolation
Dispatches from Occupied Donbas
Stanislav Aseyev
Harvard University Press, 2022
In this exceptional collection of dispatches from occupied Donbas, writer and journalist Stanislav Aseyev details the internal and external changes observed in the cities of Makiïvka and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Aseyev scrutinizes his immediate environment and questions himself in an attempt to understand the reasons behind the success of Russian propaganda among the working-class residents of the industrial region of Donbas. In this work of documentary prose, Aseyev focuses on the early period of the Russian-sponsored military aggression in Ukraine’s east, the period of 2015–2017. The author’s testimony ends with his arrest for publishing his dispatches and his subsequent imprisonment and torture in a modern-day concentration camp on the outskirts of Donetsk run by lawless mercenaries and local militants with the tacit approval and support of Moscow. For the first time, an inside account is presented here of the toll on real human lives and civic freedoms that the citizens of Europe’s largest country continue to suffer in Russia’s hybrid war on its territory.
[more]

front cover of In the Beginning Was the Ghetto
In the Beginning Was the Ghetto
Notebooks from Lodz
Oskar Rosenfeld
Northwestern University Press, 2002
From February 1942 to July 1944, Oskar Rosenfeld served in the statistics department of the Lodz ghetto. A playwright and journalist, he kept his own notes on life and conditions in the ghetto for a fictionalized account he hoped to write one day. Though Rosenfeld eventually perished at Auschwitz, In the Beginning Was the Ghetto projects his voice at last to the wider world.
[more]

front cover of In the Shadow of Hitler
In the Shadow of Hitler
Alabama's Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust
Dan J. Puckett
University of Alabama Press, 2014
In the Shadow of Hitler chronicles the experiences of Alabama Jews as they worked to overcome their own divisions in order to aid European Jews before, during, and after the Second World War.

In this extensive study of how southern Jews in the United States responded to the Nazi persecution of European Jews, Dan J. Puckett recounts the divisions between Alabama Jews in the early 1930s. As awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust spread, Jews across Alabama from different backgrounds and from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox traditions worked to bridge their internal divisions in order to mount efforts to save Jewish lives in Europe. Only by leveraging their collective strength were Alabama’s Jews able to sway the opinions of newspaper editors, Christian groups, and the general public as well as lobby local, state, and national political leaders.

Puckett’s comprehensive analysis is enlivened and illustrated by true stories that will fascinate all readers of southern history. One such story concerns the Altneuschule Torah of Prague and describes how the Nazis, during their brutal occupation of Czechoslovakia, confiscated 1,564 Torahs and sacred Judaic objects from communities throughout Bohemia and Moravia as exhibits in a planned museum to the extinct Jewish race. Recovered after the war by the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, the Altneuschule Torah was acquired in 1982 by the Orthodox congregation Ahavas Chesed of Mobile. Ahavas Chesed re-consecrated the scroll as an Alabama memorial to Czech Jews who perished in Nazi death camps.

In the Shadow of Hitler illustrates how Alabama’s Jews, in seeking to influence the national and international well-being of Jews, were changed, emerging from the war period with close cultural and religious cooperation that continues today.
[more]

front cover of In the Shadow of the Enemy
In the Shadow of the Enemy
The Civil War Journal of Ida Powell Dulaney
Mary L. Mackall
University of Tennessee Press, 2009

The mistress of a slave-holding estate, Ida Powell Dulany took over control of the extensive family lands once her husband left to fight for the Confederacy. She struggled to manage slaves, maintain contact with her neighbors, and keep up her morale after her region was abandoned by the Confederate government soon after the beginning of hostilities.

More than just an elegantly written account of her own day-to-day experiences in the Civil War, Ida’s journal opens a window into the Southern culture of the time.

Stevan F. Meserve has written extensively for several Civil War publications and is the author of The Civil War in Loudoun County, Virginia: A History of Hard Times.

Anne Mackall Sasscer  grew up on Selby, a family farm near The Plains, Virginia, the home of Ida Powell Dulany’s youngest daughter.

Mary LeJeune Mackall spent her early years at Blenheim, a pre-Revolutionary farm near Charlottesville, which inspired her lifelong interest in Virginia history.

[more]

front cover of In the Shadow of the Swastika
In the Shadow of the Swastika
Hermann Wygoda
University of Illinois Press, 1998
He was known first as a Warsaw ghetto smuggler, then as Comandante Enrico. He traveled under false identity papers and worked at a German border patrol station. Throughout the years of the Holocaust, Hermann Wygoda lived a life of narrow escapes, daring masquerades, and battles that almost defy reason.
 
Unique among Holocaust memoirs, In the Shadow of the Swastika, now in paperback, celebrates the memory of a man who received decorations from three Western powers and who, years later, was honored posthumously by the Italian city he helped to liberate.
[more]

front cover of In Their Letters, in Their Words
In Their Letters, in Their Words
Illinois Civil War Soldiers Write Home
Edited by Mark Flotow
Southern Illinois University Press, 2019
WINNER, Russell P. Strange Memorial Book of the Year Award from the Illinois State Historical Society, 2020!

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.
[more]

front cover of Inheriting the Holocaust
Inheriting the Holocaust
A Second-Generation Memoir
Paula S. Fass
Rutgers University Press, 2011
In Inheriting the Holocaust, Paula S. Fass explores her own past as the daughter of Holocaust survivors to reflect on the nature of history and memory. Through her parents' experiences and the stories they recounted, Fass defined her engagement as a historian and used these skills to better understand her parents' lives.

Fass begins her journey through time and relationships when she travels to Poland and locates birth certificates of the murdered siblings she never knew. That journey to recover her family's story provides her with ever more evidence for the perplexing reliability of memory and its winding path toward historical reconstruction. In the end, Fass recovers parts of her family's history only to discover that Poland is rapidly re-imagining the role Jews played in the nation's past.

[more]

front cover of Inside Lincoln's White House
Inside Lincoln's White House
The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay
Edited by Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger
Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

On 18 April 1861, assistant presidential secretary John Hay recorded in his diary the report of several women that "some young Virginian long haired swaggering chivalrous of course. . . and half a dozen others including a daredevil guerrilla from Richmond named Ficklin would do a thing within forty eight hours that would ring through the world."

The women feared that the Virginian planned either to assassinate or to capture the president. Calling this a "harrowing communication," Hay continued his entry: "They went away and I went to the bedside of the Chief couché. I told him the yarn; he quietly grinned."

This is but one of the dramatic entries in Hay’s Civil War diary, presented here in a definitive edition by Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger. Justly deemed the most intimate record we will ever have of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, the Hay diary is, according to Burlingame and Ettlinger, "one of the richest deposits of high-grade ore for the smelters of Lincoln biographers and Civil War historians." While the Cabinet diaries of Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Gideon Welles also shed much light on Lincoln’s presidency, as does the diary of Senator Orville Hickman Browning, none of these diaries has the literary flair of Hay’s, which is, as Lincoln’s friend Horace White noted, as "breezy and sparkling as champagne." An aspiring poet, Hay recorded events in a scintillating style that the lawyer-politician diarists conspicuously lacked.

Burlingame and Ettlinger’s edition of the diary is the first to publish the complete text of all of Hay’s entries from 1861 through 1864. In 1939 Tyler Dennett published Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, which, as Civil War historian Allan Nevins observed, was "rather casually edited." This new edition is essential in part because Dennett omitted approximately 10 percent of Hay’s 1861–64 entries.

Not only did the Dennett edition omit important parts of the diaries, it also introduced some glaring errors. More than three decades ago, John R. Turner Ettlinger, then in charge of Special Collections at the Brown University Library, made a careful and literal transcript of the text of the diary, which involved deciphering Hay’s difficult and occasionally obscure writing. In particular, passages were restored that had been canceled, sometimes heavily, by the first editors for reasons of confidentiality and propriety. Ettlinger’s text forms the basis for the present edition, which also incorporates, with many additions and much updating by Burlingame, a body of notes providing a critical apparatus to the diary, identifying historical events and persons.

[more]

front cover of It All Began in Nuremberg
It All Began in Nuremberg
Between History and Memory
Rita Thalmann
University of Michigan Press, 2015
It All Began in Nuremberg is a translation of Rita Thalmann’s moving memoir, Tout Commença à Nuremberg, originally published in France in 2004. Thalmann’s memoir represents one of the last voices to witness personally the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust. The author, a scholar of significance in France, died on August 18, 2013.

Rita Thalmann was born in Nuremberg in 1926 and lived there until 1933, when anti-Semitic events made life intolerable.  Her father abandoned his successful business and moved the family to Switzerland, where they were unwelcome, and then to France.  After settling in Dijon, Rita attended public school until Jews were no longer allowed to pursue an education.  At age fourteen, she took private lessons in English at the home of her teacher, Henriette Connes, who saved Rita from deportation and death by providing her with false identification papers and passing her to the Free Zone with a group of students going on a field trip. Although Rita and her brother managed to escape to Switzerland during the war, most of her family died in the Holocaust.

After the war, Rita Thalmann was determined to continue her education and participate in the struggle against anti-Semitism and discrimination of all types. She achieved the highest level of university teaching in France while publishing seven books. This memoir relates her personal experience of the historical events she spent most of her adult life researching.
[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter