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Yours Affectionately, Osgood

Colonel Osgood Vose Tracy’s Letters Home from the Civil War, 1862–1865

American History, Civil War Era, Forthcoming, Interpreting the Civil War: Texts and Contexts, U.S. History

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DescriptionAn abolitionist Civil War soldier and prisoner of war reflects on life during wartime

More than 3 million men served in the American Civil War. In Yours Affectionately, Osgood, editors Sarah Tracy Burrows and Ryan W. Keating have assembled a collection of letters from one of those soldiers—Osgood Vose Tracy of the 122nd New York Infantry. Sarah Tracy Burrows, a descendant of Colonel Tracy, has compiled this expansive collection from her family’s private papers. Paired with illuminating discussion and context from noted historian Ryan W. Keating, Tracy’s letters home follow his journey as a soldier and prisoner of war from his enlistment in August 1862 through the end of the war in May 1865, as Tracy then readjusted to civilian life.

The letters in Yours Affectionately, Osgood, primarily written to his mother, provide a uniquely detailed perspective of everyday life in the Army of the Potomac, adding considerably to the existing literature on the experiences of citizen soldiers in America’s Civil War. A well-educated young man, Tracy offers his opinion on pressing social and political issues of the time, including his definite abolitionist sentiments; ruminates on the Union war effort; and demonstrates his deep commitment to family, as well as his sweetheart, Nellie Sedgwick, back home. Tracy’s letters constitute an incredibly rare primary source volume that will be both fascinating and foundational in the scholarly community and for more general interest readers of the history of the Civil War. 

EditorsSarah Tracy Burrows is a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in English and history. She worked for CFO Publishing Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts, and is currently serving as President for the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History, named for her eight-times-great-grandfather. 

Ryan W. Keating is professor of history and director of the Office of Student Research at California State University San Bernardino, where he teaches and researches on the Civil War era. He is the author of two books, Shades of Green: Irish Regiments, American Soldiers, and Local Communities in the Civil War Era and The Greatest Trials I Ever Had: The Civil War Letters of Margaret and Thomas Cahill. 

Praise

“These wartime letters from a Union army officer to his mother, interspersed with his later accounts of the battle of Gettysburg and his capture at the battle of the Wilderness and subsequent escape, describe a range of soldier experiences: camp life, marches and battles, bonding with comrades, the highs and lows of morale, and homesickness. The reader will emerge with a broadened understanding and appreciation for the service and sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.”

—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom