“Annapolis Junction, September 1st, 1862. Dear Friend Amelia, This pleasant afternoon as the sun is fast declining in the west, I seat myself, pen in hand, to impart a few random thoughts to one who is far away…”
This is the first letter in a collection from Private John Tidd in correspondence to Miss Amelia Haskell of Rawson Hollow. Between 1862 and 1865 this common soldier wrote letters to her describing his experiences as a soldier in Company B of the 109th New York Volunteers.
Amelia kept the letters. Hid them. They appear here for the first time and tell a people’s history of the Civil War. Private John Tidd’s voice from the fields of battle across four years until his return to upstate New York and eventual death is the chronology. The plot, however, is the basis of a tear-jerker blockbuster movie.
Dear Reader, the best new book on the subject of the Civil War as we begin the 150th anniversary of this tragic period in our nations’ history is Dear Friend Amelia: The Civil War Letters of Private John Tidd by Mary Jordan and Joyce Hatch with Ronald E. Ostman and Harry Littell, published by Six Mile Creek Press, January 2011.
What makes this extraordinary story about an ordinary soldier such a keepsake are the photographs. Harry Littell is a gifted historian and photographer and brought to light some incredible new material from Mathew Brady. Littell and Ostmun had been sitting on their discovery of Brady studio work in the Tioga County Historical Society archives waiting for the right story to come along. This is it.
Brady invented photojournalism during the Civil War. His most famous photographs are of President Lincoln and the generals and other elites of the day. This book offers new prints from the Brady studio photographers on the common soldiers’ experience. In short, awesome.
The marriage of John Tidd’s personal heartbreak with Brady’s photographs corresponding to where John went and what he did makes for breathtaking insights into the Civil War experience. Six Mile Creek Press has issued a book with extraordinary production values: hardcover, exquisite photography, graphic design, and a coherent and engaging story about our nation.
Ron Ostmun’s contribution to the readers’ understanding of these letters is in his side notes and captions that provide important historical context to these verbatim letters (including misspellings and slang). The book makes these primary documents extremely relevant to the larger narrative of Private John Tidd, the Civil War, and our nation’s heritage.
Love stories in the midst of war are always tragic. This one is poignant. Its’ relevance to understanding the costs to the victors in violence couldn’t be more timely.