Drifting to an Unknown Future: The Civil War Letters of James E. Northup and Samuel W. Northup by James E. Northup, Samuel W. Northup, Robert C. Steensma
Based upon the Delbridge-Northup Collection at the Center for Western Studies, this is an edition of the Civil War correspondence of two brothers from Lodi, WI, James E. and Samuel W. Northup. The Northup brothers served in the second Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, James from 1861 until 1864, and Samuel from 1862 until his death in 1863 of typhoid fever. A third brother, Hiram, also served in the Civil War, in the Forty-second Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. The letters are a rich source of information about the daily routine of Union soldiers in the Virginia and Mississippi theatres of action. James' unit, the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers, fought at First and Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and the Wilderness, where he was captured. Samuel's regiment, the 23rd Wisconsin Volunteers, was involved in the heavy fighting of the Vicksburg campaign.
In addition to the detail of daily life in the Union Army, the letters reveal the loneliness of young men who are hundreds of miles from their families while engaged in the horror of war, aching for home, news of loved ones, and a return to peace and stability, all the while losing their friends to combat, wounds, and disease. The letters are, in many ways, typical of the genre, but they are also unique in their relationship to a particular place in a particular time, Lodi, WI, in the 1860s, and as such are an important resource for regional and local history written in the context of national drama.
This "reader's edition" provides a full introduction by Dr. Robert C. Steensma to the Northup brothers letters and to the service of the brothers' regiments. Dr. Steensma's introduction also addresses the issue of the importance of these letters to Wisconsin and Northern Plains history and traces how the letters moved west with the Northup family in the years after the Civil War.