Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Is there a genealogist or a history buff in your family? Are you wondering what to give that individual for Christmas? If the person is interested in nineteenth-century America, he or she may enjoy WHERE LIBERTY DWELLS, THERE IS MY COUNTRY: AMERICAN CIVIL WAR LETTERS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND NEWS REPORTS by Suzanne Meredith.

     The American Civil War was a tragic time in the nation’s history, often pitting father against son, brother against brother, and cousin against cousin. The letters reproduced in Meredith’s volume give voice to the average citizen’s anguish and courage during this turbulent era. Many of the missives are between William C. GRIDLEY, a sutler (provider of goods and food) who traveled with the 76th Regiment NYV), and his loved ones back home in Candor, Tioga County, New York or his friends on the Union front lines. Relating stories of farms desperate for workers and villages struggling to meet draft quotas, their words are vibrant with the life, hardship, and sometimes death they faced and endured. Another recurring theme is the music of war, which was used to encourage recruits, keep cadence on marches, and boost morale. Not to be forgotten are the songs of patriotism, faith, hope, and love.

     Divided into two sections, the first part of the letters are between GRIDLEY and his friend (and future wife), E. A. KEELER. The second part contains letters from Gridley’s friends and family members. Interspersed among the correspondence are the author’s background synopses, numerous vintage pictures and drawings, maps, and miscellaneous documents that lend even more color and context to the writers’ narratives. Some of the topics appearing in the volume are sutlers, their goods, and their problems; oaths of loyalty/allegiance; women of the American Civil War and the Sanitary Commission; contrabands (escaped slaves); cannons and telegraph defenses; arsenal and hospitals in Washington, D. C.; drugs and their use; war horses and mules; clothing; draft dodgers; specie concerns; and President Abraham Lincoln.

     A delight to read or just peruse at leisure, Meredith’s book pulls together a broad range of materials and topics while focusing, through personal correspondence, on the highs and the lows of life during one of the most soul-wrenching times in United States history. Genealogists wishing to know more about the lives of their Union or Confederate ancestors and nineteenth-century history buffs alike will gain interesting knowledge from the data in WHERE LIBERTY DWELLS, THERE IS MY COUNTRY: AMERICAN CIVIL WAR LETTERS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND NEWS REPORTS.

     Bound in soft covers, the 284-page book has an interesting front cover, an introduction, maps, vintage photographs, illustrations (drawings and facsimiles of various types of documents, including posters), and a list of references. Although there is no index providing page numbers where information about topics and individuals can be found, the compiler furnishes a list of the people’s names appearing in the work; sometimes accompanying the names are miscellaneous details, such as William JOSSLYN, uncle of Frank JOSSLYN, both of whom went to Michigan; and Rosa WAY, engaged to Henry SMITH, 1862.

     A copy of WHERE LIBERTY DWELLS, THERE IS MY COUNTRY (order number 101-M5728) costs $28.00. To the price of the book, buyers should add the cost for shipping charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $7.00 for one book and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume may be purchased by check, money order, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express from Heritage Books, Inc., 5810 Ruatan Street, Berwyn Heights, Maryland 20740. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-876-6103; fax 410-558-6574; e-mail; website

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