Northern Illinois University Press

A Citizen-Soldier's Civil War

The Letters of Brevet Major General Alvin C. Voris

Alvin C. Voris

Edited by Jerome Mushkat

"A first-rate contribution."Civil War History

"Military historians will find much of interest in this collection of correspondence from an Ohio regimental commander to his wife."Military History

"Mushkat has done an excellent job of editing the letters, and his introduction provides a detailed and accurate presentation of Voris and his life."America's Civil War

When "citizen-soldier" Alvin Coe Voris wrote his first letter to his beloved wife, Lydia, in 1861, he embarked on a correspondence that would span the duration of the Civil War. A former Ohio legislator, Voris filled his letters with keen insights into the daily life of soldiers, army politics, and such issues as the morality of combat and the evils of slavery. Often heartwrenching and invariably gripping, the 428 letters collected in this volume form an unbroken and unique Civil War chronicle.

Voris's personal merit and political influence earned him the rank of brevet major general of volunteers. Known among his men as "Old Promptly," he strongly emphasized the soldierly precepts of order and duty on the battlefield. As leader of the 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Voris fought in the First Battle of Kernstown, Stonewall Jackson's only defeat. Though wounded in the attack on Fort Wagner during the siege of Charleston, he served in northern Virginia until General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Some of Voris's most impassioned letters depict his firsthand observations of slavery's effects on the nation as he condemned the cruelty of slaveowners and agonized over the predicament of his fellow man. At one point, Voris led an African American brigade consisting of nearly 3,000 soldiers, and soon after their first combat he wrote Lydia to praise the men's valor and fighting spirit. Discharged from military command in 1865, he remained an active, dedicated supporter of equal rights for African Americans.

Edited and annotated by Jerome Mushkat, this exceptionally complete collection of letters reveals not only the daily life of a Civil War soldier but also the ideals and aspirations of a man of conscience whom duty called to the battlefield.

(2002) 332 pp., illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-298-5
cloth $40.00

Jerome Mushkat is author of several books, including Martin Van Buren: Law, Politics, and the Shaping of Republican Ideology. He is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Akron.

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Introduction: "I Cannot Bear to Think of a Dismembered Country"

  1. "Soldiering Is Romantic Indeed": Illusion and the First Battle of Kernstown
  2. "The 67th Has Not Been Stationary": The Shenandoah Valley Campaign
  3. "Terrible Realities of a Protracted and Savage War": The Peninsula Campaign
  4. "Never Ceasing Scramble for This Bauble Glory": The Charleston Siege and Fort Wagner
  5. "Old Promptly Has Returned": Charleston Unconquered
  6. "Days of Intense Anxiety and Peril": The Army of the James
  7. "Constantly under Fire": The Bermuda Hundred Front
  8. "A Desolated Country Cursed by Slavery and Slavery's War": Stalemate and Monotony at Bermuda Hundred Front
  9. "I Would Not Feel It Any Degradation to Command Colored Troops": Trench Warfare, Deep Bottom, and Darbytown Road
  10. "Each Day Brings the War So Much Near a Close": The Appomattox Campaign
  11. "A Black Woman Had Rights": Reconstruction in Virginia
Notes and Sources

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-298-5
cloth $40.00