“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then STAND FIRM.” – Abraham Lincon
The Civil War experiences of Bowling Green native Josie Underwood were like those of other young Southern women, yet also very different. Like others, Josie experienced the loss of home and friendships, strained family relationships and life in a war zone. But unlike her contemporaries, she also spent part of the war out of the country while her father served as U.S. consul to Glasgow, Scotland.
The fall issue of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society makes available Josie’s story from 1862 with publication of “Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary, Part 2” The University Press of Kentucky published the first volume of her diary in 2009, before family members discovered the second volume in a box of papers. Special Collections at Western Kentucky University holds the original documents.
“I think a diary like this helps us humanize people from the past,” said David Turpie, editor of the Register. “Facts and figures are important and can help us better understand the past, but it is also important to understand the thoughts and feelings of one individual, in this case someone who had an unusual journey during the Civil War years. While the war occurred, Josie continued to live her life.”
Besides giving insight into Josie’s life and the Underwood family’s experience, the diary also sheds light on the home front, an aspect of the war not as well documented as the troop movements and military strategy. The second volume starts in 1862 and continues beyond the end of the war with periodic entries through 1871.
“Most studies of war concentrate on the military and its heroes. But what about the trauma experienced by civilians left at home – especially in an area occupied by the military? Josie Underwood’s diary concentrates on the Kentucky homefront during the Civil War; most Southern states experienced similar problems,” said Nancy Disher Baird, who edited both volumes.
Kentucky Historical Society members have online access to the Register. Subscriptions for print copies are available for individuals or institutions. Membership and subscription information is available on the KHS website. Individual copies of the Underwood diary issue can be purchased for $12, plus $3 shipping, by contacting the Register staff at KHSpublications@ky.gov or 502-564-1792, ext. 4421.
For more information about this special issue of the Register, contact David Turpie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-564-1792, ext. 4435.
A lot of Civil War Buffs are also collectors – collecting anything (books, mugs, caps, figurines, chess sets..) related to the War Between the States.
While there are plenty of online resources (See: Civil War Memorabilia on Amazon, for example), collectors can also find ways to add to their collection offline.
In certain parts of the country, State Parks (with gift shops) can often surprise you with their collections as can other historical attractions. The Civil War merch shown here is part of a very impressive collection at The 1850’s Homeplace.
The Homeplace is part of Kentucky’s beautiful Land Between the Lakes recreation area – even though The Homeplace, itself, is located in Tennessee. The Homeplace has Civil War mugs, caps, books, figurines, and more – basically everything a collector could hope for.
If you’re in this beautiful area, I highly recommend visiting The Homeplace.
In the meantime, be sure to check similar historical attractions in your area. They’re great resources for Civil War merchandise and memorabilia.
Munfordville Battlefield was the site for three Civil War Battles including the Sept. 14-17, 1862 Battle and Siege of Munfordville. Arrange for a guided tour by calling the Hart County Historical Museum, 270-524-0101. Guided tours are $5 per adult and $2 per child 12 and under.
Location: Munfordville, KY
More Information: Munfordville Battlefield
More Coming Soon!
The eyes of a youth of tender years, by the name of Bullard, belonging to company A, eighth Illinois regiment, were closed in death, one spring morning, at the Marine Hospital in Cincinnati, by the kindly hands of that noble-hearted and faithrul woman, Mrs. Caldwell – unwearied and ever watchful in her personal attentions to the sick and wounded since the establishment of the “Marine” as a military hospital. Young Bullard was shot at Fort Donelson. The ball, a Minie, tore his breast open, and lacerated an artery. He bled internally as well as externally. At every gasp, as his end drew near, the blood spirted from his breast. He expired at nine o”clock. Early in the day, when he became fully aware that he could not live long, he showed that he clung to life, and was loth to leave it; but he cried: “If I could only see my mother before I die, I would be better satisfied.” He was conscious to the last moment, almost, and after reminding Mrs. Caldwell that there were several letters for his mother in his portfolio, she breathed words of consolation to him: “You die in a glorious cause – you die for your country.” “Yes,” replied he, “I am proud to die for my country.”
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.