Josie Underwood, whose family lived on an estate called Mount Air outside of Bowling Green in the south-central part of Kentucky, kept a vivid diary during part of the Civil War. Her father, an influential politician who had served in the state government and the Congress for many years and had many political connections both in and outside the state, was involved in keeping Kentucky in the Union during the Civil War.
Josie was as committed to the Union as her father and mother, although not all of her family and friends shared their unionist sympathies. Josie’s diary tells of events that happened to her and her family in the early days of the Civil War. Confederate forces first occupied her hometown, and they slowly destroyed her home because of her family’s unionist leanings. Eventually Federal forces re-captured the town, but it was too late for the Underwood’s home.
Josie’s lively diary keeps the reader enthralled as she relates what was happening to her and around her, making it a great primary source for researching into a Southern woman unionist’s take on the Civil War. Josie’s father was sent with his family to Scotland by President Abraham Lincoln as his consul general in late 1862, which is where her diary ends.
The original diary itself has not survived, but a typed version was sent to the Underwood estate. Catherine Coke Shick, a relative of Josie Underwood, had access to the diary and convinced Nancy Baird to edit it and have it published. Many Civil War researchers and enthusiasts will be thrilled that this wonderful personal record has been preserved and made available to the public.
The centerfold includes various illustrations of the era that the diary covers, including images of Josie’s parents; the introduction includes a short biography of Josie Underwood and her family. This diary is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts.