Between Home and the Front

A few years ago, a friend approached me to ask if I could help him with a book project he was working on with a colleague at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, one of my family’s favorite museums in D.C. I agreed and spent several weeks getting to know the Walters family of Indiana who wrote letters to one another during the U.S. Civil War.

Most of the letters are between three brothers – David, Isaac, and John Wesley – who joined the Union Army and David’s wife Rachel. They give first hand accounts of their experiences on the battlefront and everyday life of those left behind. But what makes this collection unique is that letters from both David and Rachel survive, providing a broad story for the years that they wrote to each other.

The book was published this fall as Between Home and the Front: Civil War Letters of the Walters Family. It provides pictures and transcripts of the letters as well as context and notes about the events described in the letters.

The authors included this generous thanks in their acknowledgements:

Julie Flake provided crucial genealogical research that helped identify members of both the Ward and Walters families and solved several mysteries that arose from the breadcrumbs of information found in the letters.

The book is very well done and includes maps, photographs, and illustrations. I especially like the illustration on the cover. It’s worth a read!