Communicating Death & Creating Memory on Fredericksburg’s Streets

Irish in the American Civil War

I have recently had a conference paper accepted on the topic of letters communicating bereavement to those on the Home Front. Since I began my work on the widow’s and dependent pension files, I have become particularly interested in these types of document, and in exploring the multitude of questions we can ask of them. How was news of death transmitted? What degree of detail was provided (or not)? What was the language of consolation (if any) employed by the writer? I have also been thinking about how this information was physically imparted to the bereaved and experienced by them– for example, for illiterate families the correspondence would have to be read aloud by a third-party. What responses did they compose (if any?), and what questions did they ask? To demonstrate just how much of this type of correspondence survives in the files, and also something of its variety and range, this post takes a…

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