The Dulanys of Welbourne: A Family In Mosby’s Confederacy, edited by Margaret Ann Vogtsberger, Rockbridge Publishing Company, Berryville, Va., $32.
Civil War enthusiasts often get so caught up in the strategy and tactics of battles that they can lose sight of the fact that the soldiers who fought them were not faceless automatons. They had families and friends who loved and cared about them.
Occasionally, a book will come along that reminds even the most callous armchair strategist that wars are fought by real people, and that any war touches the lives of many more human beings than just those who do the actual fighting. Margaret Ann Vogtsberger’s The Dulanys of Welbourne is such a book.
In 1861, Richard H. Dulany raised and personally equipped a company of mounted troops and left his ancestral home, Welbourne, to follow the secessionist course set by his native Virginia. Dulany, who eventually rose to the rank of colonel of the 7th Virginia Cavalry and temporary command of the famed Laurel Brigade, left behind five children and a large extended family when he went to war. Even though it was difficult to subject his children to the possible lossof their father after their mother had died recently (in 1858), Richard felt that honor and duty demanded that he serve his state.
Vogtsberger has done a marvelous job of bringing the Dulany family to life through the judicious use of letters, diaries and private journals. The family’s correspondence shows a full range of emotions. Running through the text like a common thread is Welbourne itself, the large, spacious family home nestled near the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Middleburg, Va. The reader is also introduced to Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby and his vaunted Partisan Rangers, who were frequent visitors to the safe haven that Welbourne provided between forays.
One of the best features of the book is its layout. The notes are included in the margins of the pages, eliminating the sometimes annoying necessity of having to leave a particularly interesting sentence or paragraph to turn to the back of the book. This, coupled with large, clear text, makes the book easily readable.
Welbourne, which stands today, remains in the Dulany family and is open to the public as a bed-and-breakfast inn. Thus, readers may step back in time and visit the site of many of the incidents brought to life in the words of the Dulanys and their war-time visitors. The Dulanys of Welbourne is a delightful read.
B. Keith Toney