Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie
In 1861, as President Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union, Thomas Christie wrote to his father, voicing desires shared by many an enlistee: “I do want to ‘see the world,’ to get out of the narrow circle in which I have always lived, to ‘make a man of myself,’ and to have it to say in days to come that I, too, had a part in this great struggle.”
As it turned out, Thomas had an excellent partner in his quest: his brother William. Both signed on with the First Minnesota Light Artillery, working as “cannoneers,” responsible for loading and aiming big guns at the enemy. The First Minnesota saw action in major battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. But the adventurers also endured the monotony of camp life, the hunger of poor supply lines, and, in William’s case, the challenges of enemy capture. The ups and downs, the doubts and thrills are recounted from their differing perspectives in this collection of letters to worried parents, a winsome sister, and a younger brother eager to join in the fight. Their vivid epistles are enhanced by the familial connection of brothers in arms who eventually did see the world—and returned home changed.
“Many Civil War letters have made their way into print, and this excellent edition ranks with the best of them.”
John F. Marszalek, executive director, Ulysses S. Grant Association, Mississippi State University
“A collection of unusually articulate, informative, descriptive letters from two soldiers who took part in some of the Civil War’s most important battles. Superbly edited, it is fascinating reading and a treasure trove for anyone seeking to delve deeper into the action in the Civil War’s decisive western theater.”
Steven E. Woodworth, author of Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861–1865
“A labor of love from a true historian, researcher, and archivist, this collection brings the day-to-day life of these Civil War–era brothers—with all the boredom, terror, deprivation, suffering, and loss experienced by the soldier in wartime—to everyone’s home bookcase.”
Brian Leehan, author of Pale Horse at Plum Run: The First Minnesota at Gettysburg
Hampton Smith is a reference librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society. In his many years at the society, he has developed expertise in Civil War and military history. The Christie letters are a treasured part of MHS collections.