An inside look at the Civil War will be presented by author Lisa Saunders at the April 12 program of the South Windsor Historical Society. Based on letters between Charles and Nancy McDowell, her book “Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife” contains details about hangings, prostitution, amputations, desertions, theft and murder among Union troops.
Charles also describes his experiences in the battles of Cold Harbor, Jerusalem Plank Road, Monocacy, Opequon, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek; Petersburg the Shenandoah Valley and the Appomattox Campaign. He also had personal contact with Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Recent immigrants from Ontario to upstate New York, McDowell and his brother David enlisted in the 9th New York Heavy Artillery in 1862. He had married 17-year-old Nancy Wager two years earlier. They corresponded frequently throughout the war, and Nancy lived with him and operated a pie business at a Washington area fort for a time.
The McDowells are the great-great-grandparents of Saunders, who discovered the letters in her mother’s attic, did extensive research, and supplemented her findings with Civil War period photographs and other material for her book. A Cornell University graduate, a member of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and Chapter, and Daughters of the American Revolution, she has also served as historical interpreter at Mystic Seaport, hosted TV shows, published children's novels and a book about her daughter. She is a Mystic, CT resident.
The program will be held at Wood Memorial Library and Museum, 863 Main St., South Windsor, at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Suggested donation is $3 for members of the society or the library, $5 for the general public. The library will also display several Civil War items from its collections, including several letters between Erastus W. Burnham of the 12th Connecticut Volunteers and his wife Mary.