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A Quiet Corner of the War

The Civil War Letters of Gilbert and Esther Claflin, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, 1862–1863

Gilbert Claflin and Esther Claflin; Edited by Judy Cook; Foreword by Keith S. Bohannon

Publication Year: 2013

In 2002, Judy Cook discovered a packet of letters written by her great-great-grandparents, Gilbert and Esther Claflin, during the American Civil War. An unexpected bounty, these letters from 1862–63 offer visceral witness to the war, recounting the trials of a family separated. Gilbert, an articulate and cheerful forty-year-old farmer, was drafted into the Union Army and served in the Thirty-Fourth Wisconsin Infantry garrisoned in western Kentucky along the Mississippi. Esther had married Gilbert when she was fifteen; now a woman with two teenage sons, she ran the family farm near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, in Gilbert’s absence.
            In his letters, Gilbert writes about food, hygiene, rampant desertions by drafted men, rebel guerrilla raids, and pastimes in the daily life of a soldier. His comments on interactions with Confederate prisoners and ex-slaves before and after the Emancipation Proclamation reveal his personal views on monumental events. Esther shares in her letters the challenges and joys of maintaining the farm, accounts of their boys Elton and Price, concerns about finances and health, and news of their local community and extended family. Esther’s experiences provide insight into family, farm, and village life in the wartime North, an often overlooked aspect of Civil War history.
            Judy Cook has made the letters accessible to a wider audience by providing historical context with notes and appendixes. The volume includes a foreword by Civil War historian Keith S. Bohannon.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

A Quiet Corner of the War consists of the edited Civil War correspondence of Gilbert and Esther Claflin, a farming couple from the town of Oconomo - woc in southeastern Wisconsin. The Claflins wrote these letters between November 1862 and September 1863 when Gilbert Claflin served in the...

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pp. xv-xviii

This fascinating window on history opens through the correspondence of my great-great-grandparents Gilbert and Esther Claflin. Gilbert was a fortyyear- old Wisconsin farmer when he was drafted to serve in the Union army in November 1862. From that December, when his regiment was...

Time Line

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pp. xix-2

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pp. 3-10

It is now November 1862.
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a flourishing town of a thousand people, has grown around a depot of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad. About a mile from the railroad depot in Summit Township, Gilbert and Esther Claflin live with their two sons and Gilbert’s mother on a forty-acre...

The Letters

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pp. 11-214

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pp. 215-218

As soon as Gilbert was mustered out, he returned to his farm and family in Summit. He was finished being a soldier. Esther’s brothers continued to serve in the Union army, though James’s health never improved enough for him to do so, and William served for only the last...

Appendix A: Family

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pp. 219-234

Appendix B: Neighbors

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pp. 235-258

Appendix C: Summit and Oconomowoc

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pp. 259-266

Appendix D: Military

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pp. 267-308

Appendix E: Transcribing and Editing

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pp. 309-322


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pp. 323-326


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pp. 327-334

E-ISBN-13: 9780299294830
E-ISBN-10: 0299294838
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299294809
Print-ISBN-10: 0299294803

Page Count: 354
Illustrations: 17 b/w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 862746717
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Quiet Corner of the War

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Subject Headings

  • Claflin, Gilbert -- Correspondence.
  • Claflin, Esther -- Correspondence.
  • Claflin family -- Correspondence.
  • Soldiers -- Wisconsin -- Oconomowoc -- Correspondence.
  • Wisconsin -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Oconomowoc (Wis.) -- History.
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