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Arts & Culture

Civil War Letters Home Reveal Horrors of Battle, Opposing Views on Slavery


The song that accompanies this interview is called “Do Not Borrow Trouble,” by the Madison-based folk duo Count This Penny. While the tune is original, the words are actually about 150 years old. They’re the sentiments of a Wisconsin soldier, writing home from the battlefields of the Civil War.

The letter is currently housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Civil War collection, and from that vast archive of more than 11,000 letters by Wisconsin soldiers comes the new compilation, This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home. It’s edited by John Zimm, with a forward by Michael Edmonds, deputy director of the Society’s library archives.

Zimm joined us from Madison, and tells Lake Effect’s Stephanie Lecci that these letters had previously been collected and preserved by one Edwin B. Quiner and his daughters, during and after the war.

Zimm has also written on a variety of topics for the Wisconsin Magazine of History.