Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa hosts event on local Civil War letters – The Daily Gazette

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By Kristina Handy

BALLSTON SPA — History buffs can dive into a new perspective on the American Civil War on Thursday (September 29) as author David Handy leads a presentation at the Saratoga County History Center’s Brookside Museum on the Letters of the Civil War written by Saratoga County resident and soldier Alonzo Bump.

Bump originally lived in the cotton mill community of Victory Village with his wife, Mary, and 3-year-old daughter, Mattie. But, in a desire to see more of the world, he joined the Union to fight in the American Civil War. While he was away, he sent letters home, mostly addressed to Mary but also occasionally to her mother, stepmother, and two stepsisters.

Handy, author of the recently published book “Theas Few Lines: The Civil War Letters of Private Alonzo D. Bump, 77th New York State Voluntary Infantry,” will explore the contents of these letters, which the Brookside Museum says delve into a variety of topics like camp life, prostitution, illness, and even about the care packages Mary would send him.

“It’s a chance for people to really find out what soldiers were actually marching on those battlefields and participating in those battles, what they were going through, what they were thinking, what scared them, what annoyed them , which irritated them,” said Anne Clothier, director of education at the Brookside Museum.

But, according to Saratoga County historian Lauren Roberts, letters like Bump’s not only provide insight into soldiers’ experiences, but also deepen our understanding of the larger historical context as a whole.

“I think it’s important to realize that even small communities, like the communities in Saratoga County, had an impact on the larger context of the Civil War – we were all defending the men, we were all helping to send supplies, there were letters coming back and forth,” Roberts said. “Something like personal letters, diaries – it really helps to give a better overview of what was going on locally, and then you can tie it into a larger historical context.”

Handy’s presentation will take place at the Saratoga County History Center at the Brookside Museum Thursday at 7 p.m. Handy’s recent book will also be available for signing. Pre-registration for the event is required and can be done on the Brookside Museum website (brooksidemuseum.org).

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