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Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary

by Josie Underwood and Nancy Disher Baird foreword by Catherine Coke Shick

Availablecloth$30.00s 978-0-8131-2531-2
Availableweb pdf$30.00s 978-0-8131-7325-2
Availableepub$30.00s 978-0-8131-3887-9
288 pages  Pubdate: 03/20/2009  5.5 x 8.5 x .9375  9

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At the outset of the Civil War, Josie Underwood was the educated, outspoken daughter of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She left behind a unique, intimate account of the early years of the war, one of the few from a Kentucky woman sympathetic to the Union. “The Philistines are upon us,” twenty-year-old Josie writes in her diary, leaving no question about the alarm she feels when Confederate soldiers occupy her once-peaceful town. Available for the first time in print, Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary offers a vivid, firsthand account of a family that owned slaves and opposed Lincoln, yet remained unshakably loyal to the Union. Josie’s father, Warner, played an important role in keeping Kentucky from seceding. Among the many highlights of the diary is Josie’s record of meeting the president in wartime Washington, which served to soften her opinion of him. Josie describes her fear of secession and war, and the anguish of having relatives and friends fighting on opposite sides, noting in the spring of 1861 that many friendships and families were breaking up “faster than the Union.” The diary also brings to life the fears, frustrations, and deprivations of living under occupation in strategically important Bowling Green, known as the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy” during the war. Despite the wartime upheaval, Josie’s life is also refreshingly normal at times and she recounts travel, parties, local gossip, and the search for her “true Prince.”

Nancy Disher Baird is the author of Healing Kentucky: Medicine in the Bluegrass State and coauthor of Western Kentucky University: The First 100 Years. Since 1975 she has served as professor and special collections librarian at Western Kentucky University.

“A little gem of Civil War literature… It gives a uniquely clear and penetrating analysis of the home front in the ‘brothers’ war,’ with a vivid picture of a family who owned slaves, believed in slavery, hated abolitionism, opposed Lincoln and held him in utter contempt, yet was unshakably loyal to the Union.”--Charles P. Roland, Alumni Professor of History Emeritus, University of Kentucky

“This private journal of an educated woman, a lady of the slaveholding gentry in Bowling Green, is written with clarity giving details of lengthy conversations, opinions and explanations for the differing beliefs.” --Louisville Courier Journal

"An important primary source. . . . Baird's attention to detail and context in the editing . . . increases its value, both as a general read and as a research tool."--Journal of Southern History

"Josie Underwood’s diary is the most valuable addition to Kentucky Civil War history in years, and has been edited to give readers an easy yet thorough glimpse at the tensions of the era." --Bowling Green Daily News

"The Underwood diary provides fascinating descriptions of the Civil War’s devastating effects within Kentucky, one of the four Union slave-holding “border states” that occupied Lincoln’s political and military thinking in the early years of the war." --President Lincoln’s Cottage

"The diary provides a good examination of the war in south-central Kentucky and lends another quality female voice to the growing number of published wartime diaries." --Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Winner of the 2009 Basil W. Duke Award given by the Military Order of the Stars and Bars

"As a Unionist in one of the more pro-Southern sections of the state, Underwood provides a fascinating window into the early years of the Civil War in Kentucky.--Ohio Valley History

"There are common pleasures, the efforts at normalcy, of 'southern people loving the south,' amid the desciptions of destruction, death, and loss. Her voice is animated and personal."--Kentucky Libraries

"Josie's diary is lively and keeps the reader enthralled by relating what was happening to her and around her."--Daily Oklahoman