Away at War: A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind

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This is a true story of survival during the American Civil War. It tells of the difficult life on a mid-nineteenth century Minnesota homestead for a mother and her three young children while her husband is away, having answered Lincoln’s call for volunteers to help preserve the Union.

Away at War is based on one hundred letters the soldier wrote his family during his two years of service, which ended with his death at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia.
The book opens with David Brainard Griffin’s farewell to his family, along with his promise to return. Philinda Minerva and her children (Alice Jane, 7, Ida May, 5, and Edgar Lincoln, 9 months), are left to run the family farm on their own.

Minnesota’s seasons dictate their activities during the cycle of fall harvest, winter withdrawal, spring planting, summer garden and haying, and a return to fall harvesting. Even with the help of nearby family and friends, the hardships and responsibilities are almost beyond them, but the only support Brainard can provide them is in the weekly letters he writes, and the small amounts of money he sends.

“Away at War introduces the reader to the terrible impact, the pain and anxiety, and the untold suffering war causes family members left behind. A moving chronicle of the experience of war and a compelling story with relevant historical references. Well-crafted, reads like a real piece of history!” – 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Review

My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters From a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer

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What does a father write to his wife and young children when he’s gone to war? Does he explain why he left them? How does he answer their constant questions about his return? Which of his experiences does he relate, and which does he pass over? Should he describe his feelings of separation and loneliness?

These questions are as relevant today as they were over 150 years ago, when David Brainard Griffin, a corporal in Company F of the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, wrote to those he left behind on the family’s Minnesota prairie homestead while he fought to preserve the Union.

His letters cover the period from his enlistment at Minnesota’s Fort Snelling in September 1861, to his death in Georgia during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. One hundred of them were preserved and passed down in his family. They, along with one from his daughter as she asked the next generation to read her father’s words, have been carefully transcribed and annotated by a great-great-grandson, Nick K. Adams, allowing further generations to experience Griffin’s answers to these questions.

Filled with poignant images of his daily activities, his fears and exhilarations in military conflict, and his thoughts and emotions as the Civil War kept him apart from his family, these letters offer a fascinating insight into the personal experiences of a common soldier in the American Civil War.

The Uncivil War: Battle in the Classroom

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Morgan Huddleston and Jeremy Wiggins have shared a classroom for three years, disliking each other the whole time and always in constant competition. Then a fourth grade social studies assignment reveals they are directly connected by tragic events that occurred 150 years earlier. Morgan and Jeremy contact their relatives and learn they both had a great-great-great-grandfather at the Battle of Chickamauga – but on opposite sides. Morgan’s distant grandfather fought for the Confederacy there, while Jeremy’s distant grandfather was a Union soldier and was killed in the battle. So the big “What if…?” question is raised in the classroom. How the two students arrive at a resolution that ends their own uncivil war is the heartening conclusion to the story.

Using contemporary settings, flashbacks based on historical characters and units, preserved family letters, and actual battlefield events at Chickamauga, The Uncivil War demonstrates how history can become magically alive when its students become personally involved.