The Greatest Trials I Ever Had
The Civil War Letters of Margaret and Thomas Cahill

Edited by Ryan W. Keating

A revealing four-year Civil War correspondence between a husband and wife


This edited collection of Civil War correspondence between Col. Thomas Cahill and his wife, Margaret, offers a rare glimpse into the symbiotic relationship between soldiers and their home communities. In the only substantial extant collection of letters from an Irish American woman on the northern home front, Margaret’s pivotal role as a go-between in the financial affairs of men in the regiment and their wives is made evident, as is the broader interplay between the community of New Haven, Connecticut, and the regiment.

The couple’s correspondence was nearly constant in their four years apart. There is an inherent intimacy in the way that daily life during the Civil War is documented and in particular in the gradual revelation of the emotional toll taken by a long-distance relationship. Because the volume includes letters from both Cahill and his wife, the interplay between the regiment and the home front is traced in a way most collections are not able to achieve.

This lively correspondence provides a great introduction to primary source reading for students of the Civil War home front. These teaching opportunities will be supplemented by a companion website that features more correspondence, maps, and additional learning materials.

New Perspectives on the Civil War Era

Page count: 248
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $79.95

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List price: $29.95

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Ryan W. Keating is an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. He is the author of the forthcoming book Shades of Green: Irish Regiments, American Soldiers, and Local Communities in the Civil War Era.