Civil War comes home

Temple: In discussion on Tuesday, author to talk about experiences of volunteers

The Civil War has always fascinated the American public.

“When you look back on American history, it was a huge event,” says journalist and historian Mike Pride, author of the recently published book, “Our War: Days and Events in the Fight for the Union.” “It absorbed and touched every family. So many people have roots back to that time. The history is much more alive.”

Pride’s book tells 50 stories of the Civil War as seen by New Hampshire soldiers and civilians. Through letters, newspaper accounts and documents loaned by families who still hold Civil War papers, Pride has put together a chronicle of how the war impacted New Hampshire. “We see a ‘universe of battle’ through the eyes of people who might have been our great-grandfathers,” wrote filmmaker Ken Burns about Pride’s book. “This is history firing on all cylinders.”

On Tuesday, Pride will be at the Temple Town Hall to talk about the book at the Temple Historical Society. The free talk will follow a brief 7 p.m. Meeting of the Historical Society.

“When I do these talks, I try to bring the Civil War home,” Pride said on Tuesday. “All these towns have their monuments. Sometimes it seems the monuments have become so commonplace that people don’t see them anymore.”

As an example, Pride spoke about Sophia Scott and Katie Cummings, whose names appear at the bottom of Peterborough’s Civil War monument in front of the GAR Hall.

“I saw those names and had to go looking for the story of those two women,” Pride said. “Actually, there were three women who go down to see their husbands, who were members of the Sixth New Hampshire regiment, about to go into battle at Second Bull Run. They made it to Newport News in Virginia where one of the husbands was ill in a hospital. The hospital had to be moved, so the women were put on a boat with the soldiers.”

The evacuation boat was on the Potomac River, heading upstream, when it collided with a paddle wheeler coming down the river. Seventy seven people drowned, including the three women. “Lt. Col Scott, Sophia’s husband, was on the ship. He survived,” Pride said.

Pride’s goal with the book was to tell the stories of how the war impacted ordinary people like Sophia Scott and Katie Cummings.

“I spent a great deal of time reading the old newspapers. Editors in those days would publish the long letters sent home by soldiers,” he said. “I also went to all the major archives, the Library of Congress. Many people lent me family papers and some of those stories are now in the new book.”

Pride said the 50 stories in his book don’t include one about a Temple soldier. But he does plan to discuss the Temple volunteers in his talk on Tuesday.

“Most of them went into the Sixth New Hampshire regiment,” he said. “The regiment recruited in the Keene and Peterborough area, trained in Keene at the end of 1861 and marched off at Christmas to go to the war. I’m going to talk about the fate of some of those men from Temple.”

Pride, who lives in Concord, is editor emeritus of the Concord Monitor, where he ran the newsroom for 30 years.

He has co-authored several books, including “My Brave Boys,” a history of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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