Civil War Letters Grapple with Gender, Interracial Marriage, and Working-Class Life

Belle Montgomery

Sergeant Major
Oct 25, 2017
Working-class New England family that was involved with both the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The mother, Lois Wright was born in Northfield, Massachusetts and died in Lowell, Massachusetts. She had at least seven children with her first husband Luther Richardson. The bulk of the collection is made up of letters between Davis and her children during the Civil War.
The letters reveal many triumphs, trials, and heartbreaks, as well as many aspects of the historical and social contexts of their time. Two of Lois’s sons (and a stepson) fought for the Union, while two of her sons-in-law fought for the Confederacy. This split in the family came about just before the war, when two of Lois’s daughters (Ellen and Eunice) and their husbands decided to move from Massachusetts to Mobile, Alabama, where they hoped to find better employment prospects.
Two of Lois Davis' sons fought with Massachusetts regiments, Charles Henry at first with the 6th Massachusetts Infantry, and then both Charles Henry and Luther with the 26th Massachusetts Infantry. Includes letters written from Ship Island, MS (1861-1862) and New Orleans, LA (1862-1864); and material on the riots in Baltimore, MD, and battles at Manassas, Malvern Hill, Petersburg, Winchester, VA, and the Shenandoah Valley, Baton Rouge and Port Hudson, LA, Sabine Pass, TX, and along the Mississippi and Red Rivers. The letters include descriptions of living and working conditions; illnesses; deaths; and thoughts on politics, race, and religion. Also includes letters about life after the Civil War.

In one letter, daughter Eunice wrote from Mobile to her brother up North asking, “Are you coming down here to fight us?”

The "Lois Wright Richardson Davis family papers"-
Lois letter.jpg

Read more about the collection including more samples here:

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!