Louisa A. Reed papers  1863-1894
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Louisa Reed papers consist of 53 letters, spanning 1863-1894, with the bulk concentrated around 1863-1865. Louisa wrote 40 letters to Enos, all but 2 during his Civil War service; Enos wrote 1 letter to his daughter, "Ollie," in 1864; Enos' mother, Asenath Long, wrote 3 letters to her son; and other family members and friends contributed an additional 9 letters.

Louisa Reed's correspondence to her husband provides news from home, updates on Olive's activities and development, and observations on the war and on maintaining their home by herself. In nearly every letter, she devoted an affectionate paragraph to Olive's "mischief" and the new ways of playing the child had discovered. Reed also frequently referred to family members and neighbors, recounting her visits to them, but intimated that she sometimes felt "lonely in company" (January 4, 1863). Throughout her correspondence, she showed herself to be astute in management of the home and farm, frequently broaching the idea of selling off livestock and buying land before the end of the war, when she believed that land would become more valuable.

Although Reed's correspondence more frequently addresses personal than political topics, it documents tensions in Belinda over the validity of the war, with frequent references to the Copperhead movement. On February 7, 1864, Reed wrote that war supporters had threatened to tar and feather a particularly vocal Copperhead. She also briefly described fundraising efforts at a "union meeting," and expressed her support for the Union cause. In another letter, she criticized men who both opposed and profited from the war (November 13, 1864).

The conflict over the war is further dramatized by several letters from Asenath Long to her son, who, according to Louisa, attended "every meeting of that kind [Copperhead] within fifteen miles" (January 15, 1865). In Long's correspondence, she expressed her anti-war sympathies and her strong feelings against African Americans: "if it was not on the account of the Negro we could have peace now … if I have raised sons to die for the Negro I shal [sic] go with sorrow down to my grave … " (August 7, 1864). Letters from other writers provide family and neighborhood news, and several letters document the Reeds' movement around the Midwest after the war.

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