UA Press home 



Civil War in the West
Getting Used to Being Shot At
The Spence Family Civil War Letters

Edited by Mark K. Christ

How two brothers lived and died in the Civil War.

This collection of letters bears witness to the Civil War of the common soldiers and junior officers of the Army of Tennessee. Brothers Alex and Tom Spence described to their family in detail not only the many battles in which they served, but the hardship of campaigning (they marched literally thousands of miles), the pride of serving in battle-proven units, and the pain of losing comrades to bullets and disease.

The Spences were a wealthy family who owned land, slaves, and the main hotel in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. With their successful careers and extensive property, they were among Clark County's most prominent families when the shadow of secession fell across Arkansas. Four years later, Arkansas would be ravaged by war, and Tom and Alex Spence would lie in soldiers' graves, far from home. Mark Christ has assembled their powerful letters from a collection in the Old State House Museum, weaving in other letters from their extended family and friends, brief but thorough introductions to each chapter, and evocative photographs. The story moves chronologically from the outset of war to the final letter from Alex's grieving fiancée.

"Combines the immediacy of first-hand accounts . . . with historical perspective and insights. . . . First-rate."

—Daniel E. Sutherland,
professor of history, University of Arkansas
and editor of Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence on the Confederate Home Front.

240 pages
27 photographs
$24.95 cloth (s)

Mark K. Christ is community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. He curated the exhibit, "Brothers in Arms: The Spence Family and the Civil War," at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock. He is the editor of Rugged and Sublime: The Civil War in Arkansas (1994) and, with Cathryn H. Slater, Sentinels of History: Reflections of Arkansas Properties in the National Register of Historic Places (2000), both published by the University of Arkansas Press.


shopping cart site map