When Abraham Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers to fortify Union forces in July 1862, George and Lycurgus Remley enlisted in the 22nd Iowa Infantry to serve God and country - and for them, this phrase had real meaning. When their native Virginia had become hostile to men unafraid to speak out against slavery, the Remley family had taken refuge in the Midwest. This collection of the brothers' letters to and from home sharply portrays the human costs of the Civil War. The Remley brothers saw action in an unusually wide geographic area. Their regiment fought the battles of Port Gibson and Champion Hill, laid siege to Vicksburg and Jackson, and took part in Major General Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Along the way, George and Lycurgus witnessed battle scenes, border warfare, bushwhacking, and guerrilla encounters. Physical hardships were matched, the brothers felt, by spiritual hardships. Even before the war began, they knew that their convictions would require sacrifice. When the family moved from Virginia to the free soil of Iowa, Lycurgus remained behind to finish school.
He was soon expelled, however, for asserting his abolitionist views and was forced to follow his family north. Ready to fight for their beliefs, he and George proudly joined the Union ranks with Bibles in hand. A close fraternal bond carried the Remleys through the tedium of camp life and the intensity of battle. George and Lycurgus wrote as distinct individuals; and this fascinating collection of their letters offers dueling impressions of the same events. When sudden illness and death left one brother alone, he courageously continued to fight not only for God and country but also for his fallen brother and comrade.
Julie Holcomb is the College and Special Collections Archivist at Navarro College in Corsicana, and has published articles in America's Civil War. Steven E. Woodworth. Associate Professor of History at Texas Christian University, is author of While God Is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers.