Faith, Valor, and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher DuBose
edited by W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes, University of South Carolina Press, 2010, $49.95
STUDYING TO ENTER THE Episcopalian ministry when the war began, South Carolina’s William Porcher DuBose decided to put aside his spiritual obligations to join in defense of the Confederacy. He became an officer first in the Holcombe Legion, and later became a chaplain in Kershaw’s Brigade. During his service, DuBose was wounded three times and was taken prisoner for a period before being exchanged. He witnessed the worst that warfare has to offer, as well as exemplary acts of courage and selfless heroism from his comrades-in-arms.
DuBose provided a lasting legacy of his experiences in scores of letters written mostly to his fiancée and then wife, Anne. The University of South Carolina Press has published more than 150 of them in Faith, Valor, and Devotion. While many other Civil War letter collections detail the thoughts and experiences of uneducated, rustic soldiers, DuBose’s letters reflect the deeper ruminations and philosophies of a young officer possessing a keen intellect and great sensitivity. As such, these letters are often intensely personal, especially since he wrote them during a time of courtship. But DuBose did write about his experiences in combat, camp life and his observations about a number of prominent Confederate officers, such as Robert E. Lee.
Faith, Valor, and Devotion could have been improved with a greater number of photos and illustrations—which are relatively sparse. But the reader is provided with detailed and informative endnotes and a thorough bibliography. DuBose’s letters are a welcome addition to Civil War documentation and should be especially appreciated by those who are interested in the role of South Carolinians in the Confederate cause.
Originally published in the May 2011 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.