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Their Patriotic Duty

The Civil War Letters of the Evans Family of Brown County, Ohio

Robert Engs

Publication Year: 2007

Many of the farm families in the river country of southern Ohio sent fathers, husbands, and sons to fight and die in the Civil War. Few families have bequeathed a record of that experience as remarkable as that created by the Evans family: an extraordinary collection of letters that offers a unique portrait of life both on the home front and on the front lines.From his homestead near Ripley on the Ohio River, patriarch Andrew Evans sent two sons to war, and from 1862 to 1866 father and sons wrote each other hundreds of letters. Called the soldier's lettersby the family, this cache lay untouched in a barn until the 1980s, when Robert Engs was invited to edit them.Here are 273 family letters, most between Andrew and son Samuel, that draw us into the complicated lives of a Midwestern family not just suffering the dislocations of war, but also experiencing-and describing in intimate detail-the sorrows and occasional joys of rural life in nineteenth-century America.From the front lines with the 70th Ohio and, later, as an officer commanding a unit of colored troops,Samuel writes of the horrors of Shiloh, of the loneliness and fear of patrolling Union lines in Tennessee. Andrew writes of the seasons of rural life, of illness and deaths in the family, of the complicated politics of this borderland where abolitionists and Copperheadpro-slavery voices shared daily debates.One of the very few collections of Civil War letters from home front and front lines, this meticulously edited book is an engrossing chronicle of war and peace, family and country, and an indispensable addition to the history of the Civil War.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

During the decade and a half in which this project germinated, many people have contributed to its realization. Most important, of course, has been the Evans family. Today, many are widely scattered from their ancestral home in...

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Editors’ Note

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p. xi

The editors have striven to be faithful to the meaning and style of the original writers...

Evans Family Tree

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p. xiii

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pp. xv-xxiii

The Civil War letters of the Evans family, presented in Their Patriotic Duty, offer rich, variegated, and insightful portraits of Civil War life in the Midwest. Specifically they reveal to us the world of middling rural folk from Ohio...


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pp. xxv-xxvi

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‘‘I Have Seen the Elephant’’: February 1862–April 1862

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pp. 1-20

Dear Brother, When I got home the news of your departure had already reached them. Mother was crying very hard but I reconciled her to some extent. Father looked very sad but said little...

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‘‘We Can Endure’’: May 1862–April 1863

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pp. 21-133

Dear Father, As I have come to write you a few lines I thought I would do so. I have not heard from home for a long time. We started on march toward Corinth last Tuesday morning. We only marched about...

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‘‘The Duty Imposed Upon Us’’: May 1863–November 1863

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pp. 134-219

Dear Son, Yours of the 26th came to hand yesterday, (the quickest time on record) which gave us pleasure to learn that you were ‘‘very well’’ and that the general health of your company is still good. I am sorry to learn the...

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‘‘Forced into a Responsible Position’’: January 1865–April 1865

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pp. 220-312

Dear Father, Your favor of the 18 comes to hand on the 28 of last month. I write pretty often at least once a week. I have made you my Regular correspondent for nearly 3 years. I think I have written on an average 1 per week...

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‘‘I Am Ready for Them to Give Up’’: January 1865–April 1865

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pp. 313-345

Dear Father, Your favor of the 18 comes to hand on the 28 of last month. I write pretty often at least once a week. I have made you my Regular correspondent for nearly 3 years. I think I have written...

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‘‘To Lay Aside All Prejudice’’?: May 1865–January 1866

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pp. 346-387

Dear Father, I have received no letter from Home since yours of the 25th, I don’t know what is the reason. I have not written hom[e] since the 28. I have been expecting a letter from home and have not written...

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pp. 389-393

In the final letter of this collection, Andrew laments the small size of the family left at home with him. Of his eleven children, four had died during the war—Abraham, John, Amos, and Ann—and only four remained at home, as Indiana...

Evans Family Timeline, 1737–1914

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pp. 395-398


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pp. 399-402


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pp. 403-410

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248520
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823227846
Print-ISBN-10: 0823227847

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 608145123
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Their Patriotic Duty

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Brown County (Ohio) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
  • Evans, Andrew, 1809-1879 -- Correspondence.
  • Evans, Samuel, 1834-1910 -- Correspondence.
  • Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
  • Brown County (Ohio) -- Biography.
  • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 70th (1861-1865).
  • United States. Army. Colored Infantry Regiment, 59th (1864-1866).
  • Soldiers -- Ohio -- Brown County -- Correspondence.
  • Evans family -- Correspondence.
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