Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Clinard & Russell: "Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family"

[Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family compiled and edited by Karen L. Clinard and Richard Russell (Reminiscing Books, 2008). Softcover, photos, maps, illustrations, notes, appendices, source list, index. Pages main/total: 400/456. ISBN: 978-0-9793961-3-7 $29.95]

Fear in North Carolina marks the first publication of the journals of Asheville, North Carolina resident and supporter of the Confederate cause Cornelia Henry. Originally written in three volumes spanning the period 1860-1868, the journals have been compiled and edited for publication in a single volume by Karen Clinard and Richard Russell.

Not surprisingly, much of Mrs. Henry's daily concerns are related to raising a family and running a household and farm (with the help of slaves). Although frequently wracked with headache complaints, Henry was nevertheless an extremely diligent diarist, a boon to future researchers and historians. Non-domestic matters are also prominent, especially with husband William Henry away in the army. With the Union occupation of East Tennessee, the western border of North Carolina was open to Federal incursion, the fears and realities of which Mrs. Henry was completely aware. Earlier, her husband was able to resign from the Confederate army in order to lead a local home defense company. In western North Carolina, their war then became one of raids and guerrilla attacks. During this most turbulent period, the journal entries became even more detailed, with Cornelia Henry perhaps seeking comfort in her writing. Diary entries continue through the occupation of Asheville in 1865 and early Reconstruction, providing readers with a lengthy account of one family's experience during those difficult transition years of political, economic, and social upheaval.

In preparing the journals for publication, editors Clinard and Russell took Mrs. Henry's original writing, which lacked formatting and punctuation, and organized it into paragraphs, inserting sentence breaks and some spelling correction. Footnotes were also included, albeit infrequently. Interspersed among the journal pages are full transcriptions of letters to and from Mrs. Henry, the most frequent correspondent being Mr. Henry. Beyond providing insight into relations between the devoted couple, it brings to light William Henry's war service. Illustrations also abound in the form of newspaper clippings and other document reproductions. Photographs of persons and places are inserted throughout, with a set of family images assembled in the back of the book. Other appendices include a family tree, obituaries, a short history of the slaves associated with the Henrys, a will, and a set of maps. One of the latter depicts the battle of Asheville, illustrating troop positions along with other landmarks, including military camps. More detailed information about wartime Asheville and environs is provided by three other archival maps. All are quite useful.

Fear in North Carolina is highly recommended reading for researchers interested in the civilian experience of the Civil War and Reconstruction years in western North Carolina. Presumably, it is quite rare to find continuous journals spanning both periods. In terms of useful supplemental material inclusion and overall presentation, the editors and their publisher, Reminiscing Books, went above and beyond that typically found in books of this type. I look forward to this publisher's future efforts.

1 comment:

  1. I am the pastor at Union Ridge United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. There is a grave here marked Sarah Louise Clinard wife of Henry C. Clinard. There is more information on the marble grave cover. He was a Civil War soldier, Co. D, 16th Battalion NC- enlisted Aug. 15th 1863, killed at Battle of Yellow Tavern, Va. Sept. 30, 1864, where he is buried. Upon research, the date does not match that battle. It was May 11, 1864. Sept. 30th, 1864 does match Battle of Fort Harrison, Virginia. Do I have the right Henry Clinard? Rev. Gary Elrod.

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