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Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary

Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary

Edited by Nancy Disher Baird
Foreword by Catherine Coke Shick
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary
    Book Description:

    A well-educated, outspoken member of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Josie Underwood (1840--1923) left behind one of the few intimate accounts of the Civil War written by a southern woman sympathetic to the Union. This vivid portrayal of the early years of the war begins several months before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861. "The Philistines are upon us," twenty-year-old Josie writes in her diary, leaving no question about the alarm she feels when Confederate soldiers occupy her once-peaceful town. Offering a unique perspective on the tensions between the Union and the Confederacy, Josie reveals that Kentucky was a hotbed of political and military action, particularly in her hometown of Bowling Green, known as the Gibraltar of the Confederacy. Located along important rail and water routes that were vital for shipping supplies in and out of the Confederacy, the city linked the upper South's trade and population centers and was strategically critical to both armies. Capturing the fright and frustration she and her family experienced when Bowling Green served as the Confederate army's headquarters in the fall of 1861, Josie tells of soldiers who trampled fields, pilfered crops, burned fences, cut down trees, stole food, and invaded homes and businesses. In early 1862, Josie's outspoken Unionist father, Warner Underwood, was ordered to evacuate the family's Mount Air estate, which was later destroyed by occupying forces. Wartime hardships also strained relationships among Josie's family, neighbors, and friends, whose passionate beliefs about Lincoln, slavery, and Kentucky's secession divided them. Published for the first time, Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary interweaves firsthand descriptions of the political unrest of the day with detailed accounts of an active social life filled with travel, parties, and suitors. Bringing to life a Unionist, slave-owning young woman who opposed both Lincoln's policies and Kentucky's secession, the diary dramatically chronicles the physical and emotional traumas visited on Josie's family, community, and state during wartime.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7325-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Catherine Coke Shick

    During the 1960s, I was raised at McCutchen Meadows, a dairy farm just outside of Auburn, Kentucky, which is approximately fifteen miles west of Bowling Green. The farm was a land grant awarded to my great great great great grandfather, John McCutchen, for his service during the War of Independence, when he was a private in Colonel John Gibson’s company of the 9th Virginia Regiment and fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780. I grew up in this place steeped in history, and consequently, I’ve always been interested in the stories of our extended family. My immediate...

    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Philistines Are Upon Us
    (pp. 1-22)

    The 1860–1862 diary of Kentucky Unionist Johanna Louisa (Josie) Underwood provides a unique and intimate look at the emotional question of secession and the trauma visited on a family, community, and state torn asunder by civil war. Well-read, observant, knowledgeable, and outspoken, Josie often wrote acerbic comments that painted with great clarity the frustrations, deprivations, and heartaches of a conflict pitting brother against brother and father against son. She related the hardships suffered by civilians during occupation, first by the Confederate Army and then by the Union, and the risks taken by those who spoke out against either. She...

    (pp. 23-54)

    Tomorrow morning I leave for Memphis, Tenn. to spend the winter with sister Jupe and Mr. Western. Miss Jane Grider is going with me and we expect a lovely time.¹

    This will be my first visit from home since I finished school last June and became a full fledged “Young lady.” Though I felt badly when September came, that I was not to return to the dear old school, I have had a splendid time, especially during the state fair which was held in Bowling Green this year.

    Sister Lute and Judge McCann came home from California and invited Messrs....

    (pp. 55-98)

    Home again with the best father and mother that ever lived and the dearest old home in the world. It is worth going away to make everybody so glad to see me back again. We had a grand time when we left Memphis. Mr. Western and sister Jupe went to the train with us and there we found Jack—Mr. Witherspoon, Mr. Crew, Mr. Coward, Mr. Roland and Mr. Carrington waiting to see us off—some with flowers and Mr. Crew with a big box of candy for us. They made a big to-do about our having no escort—said...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 99-140)

    It has come! “The Philistines are upon us!” Kentucky’s neutrality is over! On the morning of the 17th, [Simon Bolivar] Buckner with his hosts of disloyal Kentuckians and other Rebel troops—rushed up by rail from Camp Boone and took possession of the town. Henry had gone to the post-office and we were all out on the front porch, waiting his return when we heard, shout after shout and continuous shouting rise from the town. Getting the old “Spy Glass”—Pa looked to see if he could distinguish a cause for the shouting. Quickly his eyes and ours without glasses...

    (pp. 141-166)

    I must try to take up my sad story where I left off. When Pa came up to find a place for us, he arranged with various farmers around here to take most of the negro men till he could see what was to be done—and Aunt Sis and family and other negro women he also got places for, among the neighbors who are all staunch friends of Pa’s and most of them Union men. Aunt Dams—her children and Jake were sent up here the day before we left with the furniture and a few things to make...

    (pp. 167-202)

    Today I saw a perfect impersonation of war, as Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau, on an immense black charger, with his full staff—all in full uniform wearing soft felt hats with black plumes—galloped by—at full speed. Gen. Rousseau is six feet, four inches tall, large but notfatand carries himself superbly. He might well make Mars envious.

    Regiment after regiment of Cavalry passed by today, we do little but watch the passing of troops. “Jinney” bemoans the horses and today her lament for them was indeed touching—as watching them she said—“Poor dum beasts! ef humans...

    (pp. 203-204)

    In the autumn of 1862, the Warren County Circuit Court drew up indictments against many of the Confederate “Philistines” as well as about 150 area residents who supported the South’s cause and had befriended the interlopers. The indictments included accusations of usurpation of office, grand larceny, unlawful conspiracy, and various misdemeanors and malfeasance in office. The court issued indictments for treason against more than three dozen men who had “levied war” against the Commonwealth and made “War on the citizens thereof.” Since many of those named in the indictments had left the state, only locals could be served with bench...

  13. APPENDIX: Who’s Who in Josie’s Journal
    (pp. 205-228)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 229-244)
    (pp. 245-252)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 253-262)