Now the Sandy Springs resident is sharing them with the world.
“Ann’s Letters” is a collection of 30 such correspondences initially kept for safekeeping by Eve Ann Huffman. Its contents are collectively billed as a means to show not only the struggles and anxieties of the time, but the nuances of the relationships between families and soldiers as well.
With battle reenactments and commemorations honoring the war’s sesquicentennial under way, Dougherty — a retired chemical engineer — couldn’t have picked a better time to unveil his first book.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with the 79-year-old for a frank discussion on his project.
Q: How would you assess the book overall?
A: It’s an easy read. I did not change any history. … Me not being a historian, I just wasn’t interested in doing that. It’s as open and straightforward as possible. I let the letters speak for themselves and I think I did a good job at that.
Q: How would you describe the crux of your contribution to the material?
A: I’ve included information to accompany the writings. Backgrounds and contexts are given for each letter to help readers understand not only the person writing it, but the historical reference — which, I think helps them see how the war unfolded through [the writers’] eyes.
Q: How did you manage to stay above the fray as far as incorporating political/historical commentary?
A: I recognized that I had a cache of letters here … that I did not want to slant one way or the other. It’s not pro-North or pro-South. The [book] features letters from troops who marched with [Gen. William] Sherman. Were they right? Wrong? I would never address that in the book.
Q: What do these letters reveal about the authors’ personal sides?
A: That all the things these people valued were not a great deal different from the things we do today — family, love, pride, self-worth, morality.
Our forbearers’ needs were not much different from ours, despite the big differences in our cultures and times.
'Ann's Letters' costs $17.95 and is available in print and e-book format via www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.iuniverse.com