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Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary

Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary

by Josie Underwood

Edited by Nancy Disher Baird

Foreword by Catherine Coke Shick

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky

288 Pages, 5.00 x 8.00 x 0.00 in, 9

  • Hardcover
  • 9780813125312
  • Published: March 2009


  • Paperback
  • 9780813152356
  • Published: October 2021



A well-educated, outspoken member of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Josie Underwood (1840--1923) left behind one of the few intimate accounts of the Civil War written by a southern woman sympathetic to the Union. This vivid portrayal of the early years of the war begins several months before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861. "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. Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary offers a 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 as she recounts travel, parties, local gossip, and the search for her "true Prince." Bringing to life this Unionist, slave-owning young woman, the diary dramatically chronicles the physical and emotional traumas visited on Josie's family, community, and state during wartime.