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Liberty Letters: The Personal Correspondence of Emma Edmonds and Mollie Turner Copyright © 2003 by Nancy Oliver LeSourd
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Requests for information should be addressed to: Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 ISBN: 0-310-70352-2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
The story of Emma Edmonds as told in Emma's letters is adapted from Female Spy, 1864, republished as Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, 1865, by S. Emma E. Edmonds.
Winslow Homer, American, 1836-1910
Young Soldier: Separate Study of a Soldier Giving Water to a Wounded Companion, 1861 Oil, gouache, black crayon on canvas; 360 x 175 mm 14-7/8 x 6 7/8 in.); Cooper -Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution Gift of Charles Savage Homer, Jr., 1912-12-110; Photo: Ken Pelka
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data LeSourd, Nancy. The personal correspondence of Emma Edmonds and Mollie Turner : assignment--Civil War spies, 1862 / Nancy LeSourd.-- 1st ed. p. cm. -- (Liberty letters) Summary: Letters between two friends, one a nurse in Richmond, Virginia, and the other a soldier inWashington, D.C., chronicle their experiences during the Civil War, including their work as Union spies and their reliance on God. ISBN 0-310-70352-2 (Hardcover) [1. Spies--Fiction. 2. Nurses--Fiction. 3. Soldiers--Fiction. 4. Christian life--Fiction. 5. United States--History- -Civil War, 1861-1865--Fiction. 6. Letters--Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.L56268Pf 2004 [Fic]--dc22 2003023558
Liberty Letters is a trademark of Nancy Oliver LeSourd.
Produced in association with the brand development agency of Evergreen Ideas, Inc., on behalf of Nancy LeSourd.
Editor: Gwen Ellis
Cover design: Michelle Lenger
Interior design: Tracey Moran
Photo layout design: Merit Alderink and Susan Ambs
Printed in the United States of America
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We want to hear from you. Thank you.
For Cate and Luke
June 17, 1861
I couldn't believe my eyes. "Private Franklin Thompson, of the Second Michigan Volunteers," you said. "Requesting donations for the Union army, ma'am."
Great-Auntie Belle scurried around, loading my arms with linens, food, and medicines. So many questions swirled around in my head. How did you get to Michigan? And what, pray tell, possessed you to enlist in the Union army?
As you carried the supplies outside to the ambulance, you whispered, "You'll keep my secret, won't you, Mollie?"
"Such a nice young man, Mollie," Great-Auntie commented, arms filled with more donations.
"I think I know Private Thompson," I replied, "from last summer at church when I visited our cousins."
"Oh, how wonderful, dear! Why didn't you say something sooner?" She rushed outside and called you back in. "My great-niece thinks she knows you, young man. Were you in Connecticut last summer?"
"Why, yes I was," you replied coolly, "I sold Bibles before I enlisted. Are you Mollie? Mollie . . . Turner?" You made it seem like we were just casual friends when I know more about you than anyone else. I followed your lead, but Private Thompson, you have some explaining to do.
How clever of you to convince Great-Auntie that it would be so-o-o nice for a soldier far from home to receive the letters of a young girl - even a Confederate one. As you know from Great-Auntie's willingness to part with supplies for the Union, she makes no secret of her support for the Federal cause. Now that the Federal government has suspended mail service to the Southern states, Great-Auntie will make sure our letters get to and from Richmond through her private mail courier. Write to me soon. I will keep your secret, at least for now, but I want to know more.
Your friend, Mollie
June 22, 1861
I know I need to explain. I was thankful for my job selling Bibles with Mr. Hurlburt's company in Connecticut. But, when he offered me the chance to work in Flint, Michigan, I jumped at the chance to see more of this adopted country of mine.
Letters of introduction from my church in Connecticut made it possible for me to stay in the home of a wonderful pastor and his family and I quickly made new friends. But, Mollie, although I always thought God called me from Canada to this country as a foreign missionary, never in a million years did I expect it might be to play a part in safeguarding these United States.
One day, this spring at the train station, I heard the newsboy cry out, "Fall of Fort Sumter - President's Proclamation - Call for 75,000 men!" It's true I'm not an American. I could return to my native land of Canada and escape all this turmoil. But when I heard the call from President Lincoln for men to fight for my adopted country, I couldn't turn away.
I wanted to express my gratitude to the people of the Northern states who not only adopted me as one of their own but also proclaimed loudly the need to free the slaves. After much prayer, I knew God meant for me to enlist in the army. So when my friends all volunteered for the Second Regiment of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry, I assumed God would make a way for me to join, too. But I missed the height requirement by two inches.
The day my friends left, the people of Flint gave them the grandest send-off. The boys lined up with their bright bayonets flashing in the morning sunlight. Almost every family had a father, husband, son, or brother in that band of soldiers. They told them good-bye, perhaps for years, perhaps forever. The pastor preached a sermon and presented a New Testament to each soldier. Then as the bands played the Star- Spangled Banner, the soldiers marched off to Washington. I wanted to be with them!
A few weeks later, who should return to Flint but my old friend from church, William Morse, now Captain William Morse, who had come back to recruit more soldiers for Company F of the Second Michigan Regiment.
This time I was ready. I stuffed my shoes with paper and stood as tall as I could. It worked! What a glorious day! I was now Private Franklin Thompson of Company F of the Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry of the United States Army.
When I got to Washington, the army assigned me to be a field nurse. I reported to the surgeon-in-charge and received my first order to visit the temporary hospitals set up all over the city. Although there are no battle injuries yet, many are sick with typhoid and malaria. There are not enough beds for the sick; not enough doctors to treat them; and not enough medicines and food.
That's why some of us decided to visit the good ladies of Washington and plead with them to donate to the Union. That was the day I saw you again - a most fortunate day for me. I hope you feel the same.
Your friend, Frank Company F, Second Michigan Regiment