Friday, May 22, 2009

"Upcountry South Carolina Goes to War: Letters of the Anderson, Brockman, and Moore Families, 1853-1865"

Upcountry South Carolina Goes to War: Letters of the Anderson, Brockman, and Moore Families, 1853-1865 (University of South Carolina Press, 2009) is an edited collection of over a decade of correspondence between members of three upper class Spartanburg County, SC neighboring families [a nice map of their home "territory" is included, as well as a number of illustrations throughout]. The book's introduction, by editor and retired educator Tom Moore Craig and historian Melissa Walker, provides a nice background summary of the region's settlement by Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Following the introduction is a short methodology section and family genealogy. The 124 letters, numbered and annotated by Craig, comprise the body of the work. Appendices include a transcription of the personal conduct rules at one of the academies attended, an inventory from the plantation ledger book of Thomas M. Craig, Sr., and a labor contract with former slaves.

The pre-war correspondence is often to and from family members away at school, with readers obtaining a view of prep school and college life on one hand and well to do piedmont South Carolina home life and society on the other. The wartime letters are predominately to and from three young men, two Moores (Andrew Charles and Thomas John) and John Crawford Anderson. Civil War writings from the home front paint a telling portrait of the region's changing (inexorably for the worse) fortunes. Insights into the families's master-slave relationships can also be gained. The collection contains two very rare slave letters written by body servants at the front.

Handsomely bound and ably edited, Upcountry South Carolina Goes to War is a valuable primary source collection, one that chronicles the jarring social transitions and personal losses experienced by many southern families -- from antebellum prosperity to secession, Civil War, and post-war rebuilding.

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