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Biography Review    

 

Oh, What A Loansome Time I Had:
The Civil War Letters of Major Wiliam Morel Moxley, Eighteenth Alabama Infantry, and Emily Beck Moxley
Edited By Thomas W. Cutrer
University of Alabama Press, 2002
ISBN: 0-8173-1118-1

 

 
 

Readers familiar with Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War will remember the eloquent letters quoted throughout the series. Most were penned by erudite, wealthy soldiers. With Oh, What A Loansome Time I Had, the less wealthy and educated class of Southerners are represented.

Major William Morel Moxley and Emily, his wife, owned a small farm in Coffee County, Alabama. Major Moxley left behind a pregnant wife, their children, and his worldly possessions in order to serve the Confederacy.

In their correspondence the Moxleys discuss the domestic details of the farm, the efforts it takes for Mrs. Moxley to feed and clothe her family in wartime, and her own terror facing childbirth. Her distrust for the local physician is palpable.  Major Moxley describes the hunger and he and his troops face as well as the slaughter they witness. Neither of the Moxleys romanticize their plights. Their letters are filled with frustration, loneliness, and concern.

Professor Cutrer has supplemented the couple's letters with a genealogical chart of the Moxley family, detailed maps of Alabama and Florida, and significant documentation, research, and footnotes. 

Mrs. Moxley's letters offer an important glimpse of the homefront experience from a woman's viewpoint while Major Moxley's letters recount regimental life in vivid detail. Together they've created a memorable sense of place and time. 

Thomas W. Cutrer is Professor of American Studies at Arizona State University, West Campus. He has edited two other collections of Civil War letters, including Brothers In Gray: The Civil War Letters of the Pierson Family.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews 

 

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