BALLSTON SPA – History buffs can dive into a new perspective on the American Civil War on Thursday (Sept. 29) as author David Handy leads a presentation at the Saratoga County History Center’s Brookside Museum on the Civil War letters written by Saratoga County resident and soldier, Alonzo Bump.
Bump originally lived in the cotton mill community of the village of Victory with his wife, Mary, and 3-year-old daughter, Mattie. But, in a desire to see more of the world, he joined the Union to fight in the American Civil War. During his time away, he sent letters back home, primarily addressed to Mary but also occasionally to mother, mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law.
Handy, author of the recently released book “Theas Few Lines: The Civil War Letters of Private Alonzo D. Bump, 77th New York State Voluntary Infantry”, will be exploring the contents of these letters, which, according to Brookside Museum, delve into a variety of topics like camp life, prostitution, disease and even about the care packages that Mary would send him.
“This is a chance for people to really find out what the soldiers who were actually walking onto these battlefields and participating in these battles, what they were experiencing, what they were thinking, what scared them, what annoyed them, what angered them,” said Anne Clothier, the education director at Brookside Museum.
But, according to Saratoga County HIstorian Lauren Roberts, letters like Bump’s not only provide a glimpse into soldiers’ experiences but also deepen our understanding of the larger historical context as a whole.
“I think it’s important to realize that even small communities, like the communities in Saratoga County, had an impact on the larger context of the Civil War — we were all fending men, we were all helping to send supplies, there were letters going back and forth,” said Roberts. “Something like personal letters, diaries — it really helps to give a better ground view into what was going on at the local level and then you can tie it to a larger historical context.”
The presentation by Handy will take place at the Saratoga County History Center at Brookside Museum on Thursday at 7 p.m. Handy’s recent book will also be available for signing. Pre-registration for the event is required and can be completed on the Brookside Museum’s website (brooksidemuseum.org).