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October 23, 2017   Weekly Reader | Books | Letters chronicle Civil War love story

Letters chronicle Civil War love story

October 23, 2017
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Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence of Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd

Edited by Stephen Berry and Angela Esco Elder
University of Georgia Press
Paperback: $32.95 Hardcover: $89.95

Stephen Berry, the Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era at UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Angela Esco Elder, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Virginia Tech, have edited an anthology of letters that chronicle the wartime courtship of a Confederate soldier and the woman he loved.

Practical Strangers gives readers a glimpse into the romantic correspondence between Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, sister-in-law of Abraham Lincoln.

Dating back to April 1861, the book contains more than 300 letters that detail Dawson's departure as a captain in the Fourth Alabama Infantry, where he narrowly escaped death in battle.

Todd, who had two brothers die while in Confederate service and six siblings who sided with the Union, felt the emotional weight of belonging to the war's most famous divided family. The pair had barely met when they were separated by the war, and the letters were their sole lifeline to each other until their marriage in April 1862.

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