The Whartons' War

The Civil War Correspondence of General Gabriel C. Wharton and Anne Radford Wharton, 1863–1865

Edited by William C. Davis, Sue Heth Bell

with a foreword by Peter S. Carmichael

456 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6829-1
    Published: July 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6770-6
    Published: July 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6771-3
    Published: May 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5784-2
    Published: May 2022

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Between March 1863 and July 1865, Confederate newlyweds Brigadier General Gabriel C. Wharton and Anne Radford Wharton wrote 524 letters, and all survived, unknown until now. Separated by twenty years in age and differing opinions on myriad subjects, these educated and articulate Confederates wrote frankly and perceptively on their Civil War world. Sharing opinions on generals and politicians, the course of the war, the fate of the Confederacy, life at home, and their wavering loyalties, the Whartons explored the shifting gender roles brought on by war, changing relations between slave owners and enslaved people, the challenges of life behind Confederate lines, the pain of familial loss, the definitions of duty and honor, and more.

Featuring one of the fullest known sets of correspondence by a high-level officer and his wife, this volume reveals the Whartons' wartime experience from their courtship in the spring of 1863 to June 1865, when Gabriel Wharton swore loyalty to the United States and accepted parole before returning home. William C. Davis and Sue Heth Bell's thoughtful editing guides readers into this world of experience and its ongoing historical relevance.

About the Authors

William C. Davis was professor of history at Virginia Tech and is the author or editor of more than 50 books on Civil War and Southern history.
For more information about William C. Davis, visit the Author Page.

Sue Heth Bell is the Whartons' great-great granddaughter. While rummaging in her parents' garage, she discovered the cache of letters that became the foundation for this book.
For more information about Sue Heth Bell, visit the Author Page.

Peter S. Carmichael is the Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies, director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
For more information about Peter S. Carmichael, visit the Author Page.


"This unique collection offers insights into the war and life on the home front . . . . Well written, the letters are very readable, interesting, and offer many insights into life, marriage, and war in mid-nineteenth century America."—The New York Military Affairs Symposium Review

“Adds an incredible amount of insight into the life of Southern couples of the Whartons’ social class. . . . With this work, Davis and Bell bring a personal touch to the war.”—Virginia Magazine of History & Biography

“This is one of the best sets of letters from a Civil War participant I have read. This volume illuminates the Whartons’ marriage and the immense strain of war. Further, the book abounds with information and observations about notable Confederate military leaders, battles, and campaigns.”—Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis

"This richly detailed and valuable collection shows not only the ways that war affects a marriage but also the reverse, connecting politics and household intimacies to Confederate military fortunes in surprising and intriguing ways."—Anne Sarah Rubin, author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory