February 8, 2008

NEW Regional Press Letters Collection

The Minnesota Historical Society Press has recently published a hardbound collection of Civil War letters pertaining to the Third Minnesota Infantry. According to the publisher, "James Madison Bowler and Elizabeth Caleff Bowler courted, married, became parents, and bought a farm [during the Civil War]. They attended dances, talked politics, and confided their deepest fears. Because of the war, however, they experienced all of these events separately, sharing them through hundreds of letters from 1861 to 1865 while Madison served in the Third Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.

The couple’s separation—which led Madison to battle in the Tennessee Surrender and the Dakota War of 1862—challenged their commitment to the war and to each other. These poignant letters provided them a space to voice their fear for and frustration with each other, and they now provide readers with a window into one couple’s Civil War."
Battle buffs should note that, as the book's editor points out in this review, “There are no big name battles. The Third Minnesota was the runt of the seven Minnesota regiments. Their officers surrendered at Murfreesboro, Tenn. (the infamous ‘Tennessee Surrender’). They had a shameful reputation; they were paroled as prisoners.”

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