When "citizen-soldier" Alvin Coe Voris wrote his first letter to his beloved wife, Lydia, in 1861, he embarked on a correspondence that would span the duration of the Civil War. A former Ohio legislator, Voris filled his letters with keen insights into the daily life of soldiers, army politics, and such issues as the morality of combat and the evils of slavery. Often heartwrenching and invariably gripping, the 428 letters collected in this volume form an unbroken and unique Civil War chronicle.
Voris's personal merit and political influence earned him the rank of brevet major general of volunteers. Known among his men as "Old Promptly," he strongly emphasized the soldierly precepts of order and duty on the battlefield. As leader of the 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Voris fought in the First Battle of Kernstown, Stonewall Jackson's only defeat. Though wounded in the attack on Fort Wagner during the siege of Charleston, he served in northern Virginia until General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
Some of Voris's most impassioned letters depict his firsthand observations of slavery's effects on the nation as he condemned the cruelty of slaveowners and agonized over the predicament of his fellow man. At one point, Voris led an African American brigade consisting of nearly 3,000 soldiers, and soon after their first combat he wrote Lydia to praise the men's valor and fighting spirit. Discharged from military command in 1865, he remained an active, dedicated supporter of equal rights for African Americans.
Edited and annotated by Jerome Mushkat, this exceptionally complete collection of letters reveals not only the daily life of a Civil War soldier but also the ideals and aspirations of a man of conscience whom duty called to the battlefield.