“Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers”

--Walt Whitman, Specimen days, 1882


Charles C. Nordendorf, Oh! Bring my brother back to me. Danville, Va.: C. Nordendorf, 1864.
Gift of Mrs. Jean R. Pitzer (M1642 .N667 O4 1864)

Nordendorf emigrated from Vienna, Austria, to Virginia in 1862 to teach music at Danville Female College. He published over 80 songs about the Confederacy, including Old Dominion March, Southern Trooper, and The Stonewall Brigade; he also served briefly in the military. The self-published piece shown features a plea from the family members Southern soldiers left behind, “But when my home and state are free; Oh bring my Brother back to me!”

Richard F. Bohn, Letter to his father, 24 November 1864.
(MSS 11418)

A member of the 205th Pennsylvania Regiment, Bohn describes the shooting of a Confederate soldier by an African-American soldier near Dutch Gap, Va.:

When I was on Pickett a niggar shot a Rebel from a Log. He was chopping wood the Rebel and the niggar saw him chopping and [off] the niggar went through the woods he went and the Rebel [Didn’t] see him and the niggar when he was Close Enough he fired and shot the Rebel Dead, and then they took the niggar under [Arrest] for shooting him.

It is unclear why the soldier was arrested for shooting his foe.

A. J. Turner and A. W. Kercheval, Pray, maiden, pray. Richmond, Va.: Geo. Dunn & Co., 1864.
(M1642 .T87 P7 1864)

This ballad, dedicated to “the Patriotic Women of the South,” asks them to pray for their beloved soldiers, for the flag, for the South, and, finally:

Maiden, pray that yon trumpet blast And rocket’s signal light
But summon squadrons thick and fast!
To win in our victorious fight
For Home, for Freedom and the Right,
Pray, maiden, pray!

M. J. Haw, The rivals: a Chickahominy story. Richmond, Va.: Ayres & Wade, 1864.
Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature (PS646 .F53 .H396 R5 1864)

This sentimental novel offers a striking contrast to the many more sensational novels published during the war. Here, incidents set in wartime Virginia—particularly the epic battles—constitute the moral framework for a tale of romantic rivals: a young Richmond belle and the soldiers vying for her hand. The romance, in turn, frames an argument for Southern male virtue: on his deathbed the Union-sympathizing rival confesses his error, and soon after, the Confederate rival marries the belle. The crucial confessional scene is depicted on the novel's cover.

Katherine Couse, Letter to an unidentified recipient, 4-20 May 1864.
Gift of James Holsaert (MSS 10441)

With the battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House raging around her, Couse, a Union sympathizer living in Spotsylvania County, Va., wrote this long letter in diary form. On the first page she expresses her hope for the arrival of Union soldiers:

If the south could be starved out, I would even willingly starve within an inch of my life … We look ever to the Knights in Blue, and ask their protection. Oh; will they never come and release us we feel like prisoners…


Confederate States of America. Army. Head Q’rs. Staunton, May 31st 1864 … Beverly Randolph, Major commanding. [Staunton, Va.?, 1864]
Gift of Mrs. John Trout (Broadside 1864 .C64)

After defeating the Union Army at the Battle of New Market, Va., most of the Confederate forces moved east, leaving in place only a small number under the command of Brigadier General John D. Imboden. When U.S. troops began moving rapidly south toward Staunton, Imboden authorized this urgent call for “every man who can fire a gun” to help block the Union advance at Mt. Crawford. Despite receiving reinforcements from southwestern Virginia and Tennessee, the Confederates were defeated at Piedmont, and Union forces moved into Staunton on June 6.