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Confederate Correspondent: The Civil War Reports of Jacob Nathaniel Raymer, Fourth North Carolina

edited by E.B. Munson, McFarland Publishers

One aspect that separates the study of the Civil War from, say, World War II is the occasional serendipitous discovery of letters or other documentation that can bring even a minor participant vividly to life. A case in point occurred when E.B. Munson, an employee in the Joyner Library at East Carolina University, noticed a series of wartime letters published in newspapers such as the Carolina Watchman of Salisbury, N.C., and the Iradell Express of Statesville under the name of “Nat.” Following up, Munson was able to identify the author as Jacob Nathaniel Raymer, a member of Company C, 4th North Carolina Infantry, who from the start had apparently intended his frontline observations of Southern courage in the face of wartime hardships, described as he himself experienced them, to be published in his home state. In essence, Raymer had been combining his duties as a soldier with the self-assigned task of war correspondent.

Combining the letters in those two newspapers with his own research into the 4th North Carolina’s campaigns and Nat Raymer’s life during the war and after, Munson provides a good look at the observations and opinions of an intriguing individual caught up in the titanic events of 1861-65. At $45, Confederate Correspondent isn’t exactly cheap, but the sort of audience that Munson is targeting will undoubtedly judge its value on their own terms.


Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here