Between Home and the Front: Civil War Letters of the Walters Family
September 24, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm| Included with admission; free for Museum members
Hear the story of the Walters family and how the Missing Soldiers Office helped them find closure.
On September 24 at 2:00 PM come to the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office in Washington, DC to hear the story of the Walters family during and after the Civil War as told through their previously unpublished letters. In addition to the book talk, the Missing Soldiers Office will be open for walk-in visitation from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM on September 24.
Between Home and the Front by Lynn Heidelbaugh and Thomas Paone (Indiana University Press, 2022), presents previously unpublished letters from the Walters family’s collection held by the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. This collection includes the exchange of correspondence between the home front and frontline, a perspective not often seen in historical records. The publication provides a glimpse into the emotions and news that Private David Walters of the 5th Indiana Cavalry and his wife Rachel shared in their letters. Rachel became the hub of communication for the family, often receiving missives from David’s brothers, Isaac and John Wesley, both of whom served with Indiana units, and relaying the information to friends and family.
This book talk will highlight Rachel Walters’s post-war correspondence with the Missing Soldiers Office. With the assistance of the office’s staff and correspondence with veterans, Rachel Walters was able to verify information about her husband’s death at a prisoner-of-war camp and secure a widow’s pension three years after the war’s end.
In addition to the book talk, the Missing Soldiers Office will be open for walk-in visitation from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM on September 24. The event will begin at 2:00 PM on September 24 at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum. The program is included with admission and free for Museum members. The Missing Soldiers Office is located at 437 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004.
Lynn Heidelbaugh, curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, specializes in the history of the US Postal Service. She has published essays and created several exhibitions about military mail, including “Letters Home” in Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, and the exhibition My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I, for which she received a Smithsonian Secretary’s Award for Research in 2018.
Thomas Paone curates the lighter-than-air collection, including balloons, blimps, and airships, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Paone’s research focuses on ballooning in the Civil War, as well as the use of airships and blimps in America. He is coauthor of Milestones of Flight: The Epic of Aviation with the National Air and Space Museum.