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Nancy Disher Baird
Catherine Coke Shick
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At the outset of the Civil War, Josie Underwood was the educated, outspoken daughter of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She left behind a unique, intimate account of the early years of the war, one of the few from a Kentucky woman sympathetic to the Union. "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. Available for the first time in print, Josie Underwood's Civil War Diary offers a vivid, firsthand account of a family that owned slaves and opposed Lincoln, yet remained unshakably loyal to the Union. Josie's father, Warner, played an important role in keeping Kentucky from seceding. Among the many highlights of the diary is Josie's record of meeting the president in wartime Washington, which served to soften her opinion of him. Josie describes her fear of secession and war, and the anguish of having relatives and friends fighting on opposite sides, noting in the spring of 1861 that many friendships and families were breaking up "faster than the Union." The diary also brings to life the fears, frustrations, and deprivations of living under occupation in strategically important Bowling Green, known as the "Gibraltar of the Confederacy" during the war. Despite the wartime upheaval, Josie's life is also refreshingly normal at times and she recounts travel, parties, local gossip, and the search for her "true Prince."
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