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Highlights Archives

Civil War Soldiers' Letters Tell the War's History


Six Wisconsin soldiers who were part of the Iron Brigade, a unit comprising soldiers from Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan that was known for its determined fighting ability
WHI 41960

The U.S. Civil War was a vast conflict fought for grandiose ideals and led by larger-than-life leaders on both sides of the fight that divided our nation. Yet, for all the captivating tales of courage and combat, of strategy and strife, the history of the U.S. Civil War is more the story of the individual soldiers than of the famous figures — and ideals — that led them to battle. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum invite you to hear the history of the Civil War, as told by individual Wisconsin soldiers who wrote home to their families during the war, at a special presentation on Thursday, February 28, in Madison.

An Intimate Portrait of Men and Women at War

The cover of "This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home"
John Zimm, editor of this recently published collection of Wisconsin Civil War letters, will share soldiers' stories beginning at 7 pm at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 West Mifflin Street. Zimm, together with co-presenter Michael Edmonds, will paint an intimate portrait of the Wisconsin men and women who took part in the War for the Union. From impressions of army life and the South to the soldiers' conflicting feelings about slavery and the war, these letters tell the history of the Civil War in a very personal way.

Zimm chose the letters for "This Wicked Rebellion" from among the more than 11,000 letters in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Civil War collection. Michael Edmonds, deputy director of the Society's Division of Library-Archives, where the vast Civil War collection is housed, will share the history behind this unique collection of letters. These letters, as Edmonds writes in the book's foreword, capture "… the voices of everyday Wisconsin people who lived and died during the Civil War." Come and listen to the stories of a conflict that still fascinates us more than 150 years later.

About the Presenters

John Zimm, the book's editor, received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press since 2002. His articles for the "Wisconsin Magazine of History" include "On to Montezuma's Halls: The Story of Alexander Conze" and "Wisconsin's Historic Windmills." John lives in Waunakee with his wife Nicole and son Danny.

Michael Edmonds is deputy director of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Division of Library-Archives. A member of the staff since 1982, he leads the effort to digitize manuscripts and rare books for the Wisconsin Historical Society website. His 2009 book on Paul Bunyan, "Out of the Northwoods," won the Wayland D. Hand Prize from the American Folklore Society.

More Upcoming Events


:: Posted February 18, 2013

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