Northern Illinois University Press


Southern Sons, Northern Soldiers

The Civil War Letters of the Remley Brothers, 22nd Iowa Infantry

Edited by Julie Holcomb

Introduction by Steven E. Woodworth

"Historians who understand the value of seeing the war through the eyes of the participants will find no better opportunity to do so than in this wonderful collection of correspondence."—The Journal of Military History

"The beauty of such a volume is the reader is brought close to the history being made by the men who fought the battles. It is the ultimate oral history and personal recollections that are so important in the understanding of what war really is and how ordinary human beings suffer through each moment of their making of that history."—The Civil War Courier

"Superbly edited ... makes a vital contribution to Civil War studies. The brothers' literacy and knack for language greatly aid the effects of this book."—H-Net

When Abraham Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers to fortify Union forces in July 1862, George and Lycurgus Remley enlisted to serve God and country—and for them, this phrase had real meaning. When their native Virginia had become a hostile environment for men speaking out against the evils of slavery, the Remley family had taken refuge in the Midwest. Answering the call of their president and their consciences, the two brothers joined the 22nd Iowa Infantry. This poignant collection of their letters to and from home sharply portrays the human costs of the Civil War.

The Remley brothers saw action in an unusually wide geographic area, from Missouri to Louisiana, as their regiment fought the battles of Port Gibson and Champion Hill, laid siege to Vicksburg and Jackson, and took part in Major General Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Along the way, George and Lycurgus witnessed battle scenes, border warfare, bushwhacking, and guerrilla encounters—all of which they graphically described in letters home.

Physical hardships were matched, the brothers felt, by spiritual hardships. Even before the Civil War began, they knew that their abolitionist convictions would require personal sacrifice. When the family moved from Virginia to the free soil of Iowa, Lycurgus remained behind to finish school. He was soon expelled, however, for asserting his own abolitionist views and was forced to follow his family north. Ready to fight for their beliefs, he and George proudly joined the Union ranks with Bibles in hand. As they traveled throughout the country, Lycurgus, still outspoken, distributed New Testaments among his comrades.

A close fraternal bond carried the Remleys through the tedium of camp life and the intensity of battle. George and Lycurgus wrote as distinct individuals; and this fascinating collection of their letters offers dueling impressions of the same events. But when sudden illness and death left one brother alone, he courageously continued to fight not only for God and country but also for his fallen brother and comrade.

(2004) 216 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-319-7
cloth $35.50

Julie Holcomb is the College and Special Collections Archivist at Navarro College in Corsicana and has published articles on America's Civil War.

Steven E. Woodworth, Associate Professor of History at Texas Christian University, is author of While God Is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note
Introduction by Steven E. Woodworth
1. "Among the Barren Hills of Missouri"
2. "He Died in Hope of a Blissful Immortality"
3. "A Bright and Glorious 'Fourth'"
4. "Our Grand Expedition ... into Texas"
5. "Into Texas Proper"
6. "To Bid His Dulcina Farewell"
7. "We Will Have Some Fighting to Do"
Epilogue
Biographical Directory
Notes
Index

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-319-7
cloth $35.50