Thirza Finch diary and letter transcriptions  1858-1870
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Finch diary and letter transcriptions contains Thirza Finch's sporadic (or selected) diary entries from 1858-1870, plus copies of letters written to Thirza and other family members from her brothers in the service. Unfortunately, in many cases the diary entries and letters appear to be extracts of the originals, rather than true transcriptions, and there is no way to know what has been omitted.

Except for a few entries written during the first year of the war, while Thirza was at Maple Valley, the diary entries are generally brief. These few entries, though, are a powerful record of the uncertainty felt by civilians caught in a war zone, and of the fear and suspicion surrounding the appearance of unknown persons, white or Black, soldier or civilian, northern or southern. The diary is at its best in the few days surrounding the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, when Thirza writes longer pieces, and when events take place at a very rapid pace and the tension reaches its peak. There are also several excellent entries relating her experiences nursing Union soldiers -- semi-voluntarily, it seems -- and hosting "deserters" from the Confederate Army.

Among the correspondence copied into the book, a few of the letters from Thirza's brothers are outstanding, though most are fairly routine, and many have been edited down during the copying process. Particularly noteworthy are a letter written by Richmond following the death of their father, in which he laments the fact that the family have drifted apart, and the series of letters written during the siege of Washington, N.C. Edwin's letters describing a spirited cavalry skirmish at Lacey Springs and the trenches at Petersburg three days before the fall are also excellent, as is his lengthy description of a huge snowball fight between members of three New York regiments and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.

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