William Vermilion (1830-1894) served as a captain in Company F of the 36th Iowa Infantry from October 1862 until September 1865. Although he was a physician in Iconium in south central Iowa at the start of the war, after it ended he became a noted lawyer in nearby Centerville; he was also a state senator from 1869 to 1872. Mary Vermilion (1831-1883) was a schoolteacher who grew up in Indiana; she and William married in 1858. In this volume historian Donald Elder provides a careful selection from the hundreds of supportive, informative, and heart-wrenching letters that they wrote each other during the war—the most complete collection of letters exchanged between a husband and a wife during the Civil War.
“The letters of William and Mary Vermilion provide a unique glimpse into the changes the war inflicted on men, women, and family relationships . . . [they] offer a rich discussion of the politics of the home front in two states as well as the progress of military action, expecially in the Western theatre. . . . This is a welcome complement to the literature on the Civil War’s impact on gender and marriage.”—Choice
“What a find! This remarkable cache of Civil War letters reveals a companionate marriage of two literate, caring individuals who explore the meaning of their love and the meaning of the war that has separated them. Well illustrated and well documented, the book's pages take the reader from honesty and sensitivity to disappointment and despair. Elder proves that historical documents can be more compelling than fiction.”—Glenda Riley, Alexander M. Bracken Professor, Ball State University