Love and Valor – Intimate Civil War Letters Between Captain Jacob and Emeline Ritner

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Love and Valor is the incredible story of husband and wife Jacob and Emeline Ritner and their shared correspondence during the American Civil War. Eventually promoted to captain, Jacob recounts through these incredible letters what military life was like in the Western theater of Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the Occupation of Savannah, as well as the growing anti-slavery movement; while Emeline recounts everyday family life and living on a farm, and offers up insightful details of everyday life in the 1860s. But that is just one facet of these letters; the other is the love these two had for each other, expressed in beautiful words and thoughtfulness and kindness that is just as emotional and moving one hundred sixty years later.

The editor, Charles F. Larimer, is a descendant of Jacob Ritner. The book begins with the incredible story of how Larimer learned of his family’s history and the existence of the letters, and how he was able to track them down, and in so doing discovered other caches of related letters from people involved with the Ritners. The book bounces back and forth between these letters and the contemporary story of Larimer’s research through footnotes and passages, as the reader gets to learn about a whole cast of real people from this time and what their lives were like.

The book appears intimidating, weighing in at over six hundred pages, but as soon as one starts reading these moving words, one gets sucked into this story from long ago and caught up in the emotion and lives of these people. Originally released in 2000, a new edition of Love and Valor: Intimate Civil War Letters Between Captain Jacob and Emeline Ritner is being released with revised and updated content, including even more stories and a number of photos of the men, women, and children mentioned in the book. Perhaps the only weakness with the book is at times the layout gets a little confusing as we switch between letters and footnotes which appear as part of the main text and not in a smaller font at the bottom of the page, and Larimer can get a little overly-detailed and long-winded on some tangents that take away from the letter being currently read.

Nevertheless, Love and Valor is an incredibly moving story of this couple’s lives that comes to new life through their beautiful letters to each other, showing love is timeless, as well as providing an incredible insight into life during the latter half the nineteenth century.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 652 pages
Publisher Sigourney PRess
Publish Date
ISBN 9781098339593 Buy this Book
Issue May 2021
Category History