Private No More

The Civil War Letters of John Lovejoy Murray, 102nd United States Colored Infantry

Title Details

Pages: 162

Illustrations: 5 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6345-5

List Price: $24.95


Pub Date: 03/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6344-8

List Price: $114.95

Private No More

The Civil War Letters of John Lovejoy Murray, 102nd United States Colored Infantry

A revealing collection of Civil War–era letters from a northern Black soldier

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  • Description
  • Reviews

The John Lovejoy Murray collection of letters contains insights into the experiences of an African American soldier and his regiment during the Civil War. John Lovejoy Murray, a private in Company E, 102nd USCT, died of disease in a Charleston hospital on April 12, 1865. Through John Murray’s letters, readers can experience the war through the eyes of a literate northern Black soldier.

His is the story of the soldiers who did not receive accolades for their heroic actions in battle, the ones who spent more time on picket and fatigue duty than on the front lines, the ones who died from disease more than they did of battle-related wounds. Murray’s letters are significant because they are ordinary in some respects yet extraordinary in others. Some of the activities and sentiments portrayed in the letters are hardly distinguishable from those described in letters written by White soldiers. In other ways, the letters represent a perspective distinctly from a Black soldier in the Union army. Although many of his experiences may have been typical, John Lovejoy Murray himself, a literate, freeborn, northern Black man, was atypical among Union Black soldiers.

This collection of the letters of an African American Union Army soldier during the Civil War represents a welcome addition to the published collections of soldier correspondence from that conflict, in which Black voices have been badly underrepresented. The research is quite impressive and illuminating, and the footnotes do much to contextualize the letters and add value to the presentation.

—Michael Thomas Smith, author of The Enemy Within: Fears of Corruption in the Civil War North

As a largely intact collection of private papers written by a northern black soldier to family members unedited by an outside source, Private No More is extremely rare and will be greatly appreciated by Civil War historians.

—Richard Reid, history professor emeritus, University of Guelph

Private No More adds significantly to our understanding about the diversity of USCT soldiers and their experiences. It is a must read for those interested in Civil War soldiers’ letters, the common soldier, and the conflict in the Department of the South.

—Tim Talbott, Emerging Civil War

About the Author/Editor

SHARON A. ROGER HEPBURN is professor of history at Radford University. She is the author of Crossing the Border: A Free Black Community in Canada, which received the 2008 Albert B. Corey Award. She lives in Christiansburg, Virginia.