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Women's Letters to a Union Soldier

Nancy L. Rhoades

Publication Year: 2009

This unique collection of more than 150 letters written to an Ohio serviceman during the American Civil War offers glimpses of women’s lives as they waited, worked, and wrote from the Ohio home front. The letters reveal fascinating details of the lives of mostly young, single women—friends, acquaintances, love interests, and strangers who responded to one Union soldier’s advertisement for cor respondents. Almost all of the women who responded Lewis Lybarger’s lonely-hearts newspaper advertisement lived in Ohio and supported the Union. Lybarger carried the collection of letters throughout three years of military service, preserved them through his life, and left them to be discovered in an attic trunk more than a century after Lee’s surrender.

Women’s letter writing functioned as a form of “war work” that bolstered the spirits of enlisted men and “kinship work” that helped forge romantic relationships and sustain community bonds across the miles. While men’s letters and diaries abound in Civil War history, less readily available are comprehensive collections of letters from middle-class and rural women that survived the weathering of marches, camp life, and battles to emerge unscathed from men’s knapsacks at war’s end.

The collection is accompanied by a detailed editorial introduction that highlights significant themes in the letters. Together, they contribute to the still-unfolding historical knowledge concerning Northern women’s lives and experiences during this significant period in American history.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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p. vii


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p. ix

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pp. xi-xvii

From the dim and misty past, François Villon calls to mind the names of heroines long gone in his “Ballad of Dead Ladies” and repeatedly asks, “But where are the snows of yester-year?” The snows covered the “dead ladies” until they were cast almost into oblivion, before the obscuring snow itself melted away. Who were these chaste and ardent women whose names speak of valor, intrigue, joy, and...


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pp. xix-xx

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Introduction: BOLD SCRIPT AND WAR WORK [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 1-116

“Volunteers! Volunteers!” bellowed the headline in the Mount Vernon Democratic Banner on November 5, 1861. “Apply without delay,” Colonel J. L. Kirby Smith commanded from the page; “I hope to raise one of the best companies in the State. . . . [T]he 43rd is designated to be one of the finest Regiments in the service.” Twenty days later, Edwin Lewis Lybarger, the twenty-one-year-old son of the former Amelia Crum and James T. Lybarger of Knox County, ...

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Women’s Letters to Edwin Lewis Lybarger, 1862–67

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pp. 117-353

...I thought I would write you a letter today, although I wrote to you about two or three months ago, and have been looking for a letter from you, would have been looking yet, but Delia Schroyer told me that she had received a letter from you, and you said you had written to me but had not received an answer. I directed my letter to New Madrid, presume you had left there before the letter had gotten there. This is Sabbath Day and I am so lonely. Ria Welker has been...

Appendix: Biographical Sketch of Edwin Lewis Lybarger

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pp. 355-360


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pp. 361-385


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pp. 387-397

Index of Correspondents

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p. 399

General Index

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pp. 401-410

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443248
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821418055

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 742512869
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Wanted—Correspondence

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects -- Sources.
  • Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Women -- Sources.
  • Lybarger, Edwin Lewis, 1840-1924 -- Correspondence.
  • Women -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Women -- Sources.
  • Women -- Ohio -- Social conditions -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • Letter writing -- Social aspects -- United States -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- War work -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects -- Sources.
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