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Letter of a Wisconsin Civil War Soldier Inspires Song

The Civil War Letters of Mack and Nan Ewing Collection

As we remember the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, we've been hearing about the experiences of Wisconsin soldiers fighting in the American Civil War.

One of those soldiers was Walter Persons, an 18-year-old fighting with the 16th Wisconsin Infantry. From his unit, he wrote a letter to his parents, which more than a hundred years later would be housed at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.  

To honor the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the museum commissioned songs to be written based on some of its archival letters, including Walter's. The museum turned to Madison-based duo Count This Penny, and the result is a remarkable song called Do Not Borrow Trouble.

"I was looking through the letters of Walter Persons and basically just stole things from them word for word, they were so beautifully written," says Count This Penny's Amanda Rigell, who plays with husband Allen.

The band is coming to Milwaukee on July 13th to play at Riverwest Public House. You can watch a special video of the production of this song and another from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum below.