YOURS AFFECTIONATELY, OSGOOD
The Civil War Letters of Colonel Osgood Vose Tracy, 122nd New York State Volunteers, to his Mother, Sarah Vose Osgood Tracy, 1862-1865
Privately held cache
Genre: Nonfiction. Editors: Sarah Tracy Burrows and Civil War historian Ryan Keating, PhD.
Cover blurb by James M. McPherson
Osgood Vose Tracy was almost twenty one years old when Confederate forces under P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, leading the nation headlong into a bloody Civil War that would last four years and claim more than 750,000 lives on battlefields strewn across the continent. The idealistic young man from Syracuse, New York, whose childhood was marked by tragedy and triumph, was passionate about the issues plaguing the nation, for he wrote about them often in his war-time correspondence. Osgood’s family, which has a rich legacy of military histories and abolitionist roots, certainly was.
In August 1862 Osgood joined the 122nd New York State Volunteers with other like-minded men, and his war was framed by this political and moral stance. An avowed proponent for the abolition of slavery, and as such, his 200+ letters contribute to the broader debate over soldier motivations, and add to our understanding of the personal and public motives that drove men to sacrifice themselves for their nation. Osgood’s writing provides stark commentary on the war and the experiences of a young man far from home, deeply committed to the cause and those he left behind. Loyal to the Union, Osgood struggled with the realities of war; the hardships of camp, the campaign trail and battlefield, and his longing for a woman, Nellie Sedgwick, during years of frustrating courtship, which continued to play out by post after Osgood enlisted.
Among many harrowing wartime experiences Osgood encountered included being captured at the Battle of the Wilderness and in-prisoned in a Confederate jail where he and another comrade managed to plan and carry out a daring escape plan disguised as rebels, trekking 250+ miles through enemy territory.
Osgood’s younger brother, William, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Battle of Chancellorsville, summed up the families sentiment well during an anniversary speech for the veterans of the 122nd New York. “Our lives,” he said, recalling the years before the war, “were as sweet, our happiness as dear to us then as life and happiness are now to the men who walk our streets to-day, yet were we willing to surrender all, without hesitation and without scruple.” The men who enlisted with the Tracy brothers “built better and stronger than we knew; and the work so begun also resulted in the enfranchisement of a race. We saved our Union, and at the same time created a nation of free men from a race of slaves.”
Through these letters readers are left to explore Osgood’s war through his eyes, as he saw and understood it, and through what he chose to share with those whom he left behind when he marched to war in 1862. He documented his personal war, passed those letters down to successive generations, and we will be thrilled to share them with readers forthcoming.
A Southern Young Belle with a Dilemma
Historical novel inspired by a true story. Sequel to Fighting for Nellie
A daughter of Dixie and the mayor of Rome, Georgia, twenty-one year old Florida “Flo” Bayard Seay – a talented writer, musician, and president of the 1898 Shorter College class – is engaged, set to marry a dashing young man, a family friend and banker in Rome. However, when Flo takes a trip north by train to New York State to visit her cousin who attends Cornell University, she meets twenty-eight year old James Grant Tracy who sweeps her off her feet in ways she never could have imagined. Flo discovers when she returns to Illahee – the family cotton plantation – her heart stays north.
What will Flo have the strength to do? James is the son of a man who fought for the Union and the abolition of slavery while Flo’s father and two brothers the Confederacy, and even after it has ended the Civil War rages on – North and South.
Based on a cache of letters, photographs and news articles passed down through generations and written by a direct descendant, FLO brings to light a smart, determined, and humorous young woman who will fight for love even when stricken by something unimaginable as well as the complicated family, society and country ties that bind us all.
Genre: Historical Fiction Inspired by a True Story
John B. Tracy Jr. is a young man with a dream – to fly. The youngest of three children, he is the ‘baby’ of the family, adored by all, especially his mother and friends in the tight knit Central New York city neighborhood, Sedgwick Farm, where he is raised during the Cold War. Johnny’s handsome looks, steely eyes, and smile exuding his passion for life draw people to him, including young women, though there is only one who captures and keeps his heart.
Since Johnny loves anything to do with action – from racing his bike to driving the red convertible jaguar he and his older brother save up for – he joins the United States Air Force, envisioning himself flying commercial flights overseas some day. As in most things he does John excels and by age 24 finds him self co-piloting classified Strategic Air Command missions to Russia, leaving behind his sweetheart for assignments which will change his life, family’s, and that of his country forever.
Lieutenant John Bayard Tracy Jr.
A voluminous collection of letters written by and to twice-elected New York State Representative, staunch abolitionist and fiery orator Charles Baldwin Sedgwick, the first to give a speech on the House floor in 1860 denouncing slavery. Ten years before, Sedgwick posted bond for and represented in court a group of white men who, in defiance of the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law, stormed a Syracuse jail to free a captured runaway enslaved man named Jerry Henry, an incident which ignited debate about slavery in the North and South.
As tensions mount and the Civil War progresses, Congressman Sedgwick toils with Washington legislators and continues to work with a group he calls “Freedom Fighters,” among them the Reverend Joseph May, Gerrit Smith, George Barnes, John Wilkinson, Reverend Jermaine Loguen, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and James Freeman Clarke. Unswerving in his stand of “no compromises, no concessions,” Sedgwick’s first concern is not to preserve the Union but deal at any cost a death blow to the institution which countenances the enslavement of human beings.
On the eve of yielding his mightiest attack in Washington, however, an unspeakable tragedy strikes at home, testing not only his passion and courage but that of his wife, as the fierce battle within the country and home front wages.
June 10, 1864
Dear Dora – There is not a decently fair man in Congress who does not admit that Negroes should be paid the same as white soldiers – It is just, honest, and politic. Congress acts like the devil about this – But the time is coming! I don’t know but all this neglect and delay and quarreling is wholesome. In the end I am sure it will bring about great Negro equality. Half a dozen such men as Fred Douglass in Congress (if you could find a dozen such more white or black) would greatly improve the body and show that we believe what we have been preaching so long – I go now the largest liberty.
I have your letter to father Abraham. Keep hammering – it is the only way. Love to all the babies from Nell down.
Your affectionate husband,
December 12, 1864
Dear Dora – I think what I have gained is worth all the sacrifice and pains of absence and annoyance to you. Don’t you? You are entirely mistaken in supposing me to have become wedded to this life as more pleasant than home life – It is not true and I shall return to home with quite as much pleasure as it can give me.
Your loving husband,
Quotes regarding N.Y. State Representative Charles Baldwin Sedgwick:
“Let me congratulate you on the honor you have achieved in being the first to speak in Congress in just and fitting terms.” Wendell Phillips, on Congressman Sedgwick’s speech about abolishing slavery
“You have done a good service to the cause of suffering humanity.” Reverend Samuel Joseph May
“It is not often that I am tempted by a speech in Congress to such neglect of my affairs.” James Freeman Clarke
Boston, May 20, 1862
Dear Mr. Sedgwick:
To-day a wet blanket is thrown upon the flame of popular enthusiasm by President Lincoln’s veto. What giving and taking, what blowing hot and blowing cold, we have upon this slavery question!
Depend upon it this veto will serve to increase the disgust and uneasiness felt in Europe at our shilly-shallying course, to abate the enthusiasm of the army and the friends of freedom universally, and to inspire the rebels with fresh courage and determination. It seems to me that infatuation pervades the President and his Cabinet.
Yours, for no compromise,
Wm. Lloyd Garrison
Hon. Charles B. Sedgwick
April 19, 1860
Dear Mr. Sedgwick,
If you will allow an address from one who has just read your very interesting and able speech upon ‘Southern Aggression’ in a copy you sent to Bronson Alcott. Please send me one or two or even three copies, if it is not asking too much. It is a comfort to see that such things can be said on the floor of Congress at last – it seems to nullify a future such as I have almost despaired of –
It is the 19th of April and old Concord is ringing with jubilee cannon – It is true as steel to freedom – and all its blood is up hot as in 1775 as you have lately seen – Does Mrs. Sedgwick know that Anna Alcott is to be married the 23rd?
Elizabeth P. Peabody
THE WILD RIDE OF WILLIAM TRACY
A true story conveying timeless lessons of courage, honor, and duty motivating any age
When guns first fire at Ft. Sumter in April 1861, eighteen year old, patriotic Will Tracy joins the Northern war effort. Strapping on his knapsack and shouldering his rifle, he marches twice across Kentucky, serving in the Western theater. Though given a position as an officer because of whom he knows, Will is determined to make his own mark. He rejoins as a private in another regiment, unknown to any, and works his way up the ranks due to his performance.
Before long he is a general’s aid in the 122nd New York State Volunteers, carrying out a secret mission during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Discovering himself in enemy territory and told to surrender, he refuses. Confederate General A.P. Hill gives the order, “Shoot him! Kill him!” Shots and shells resound throughout the field and woods beyond and Will, determined to ride down the path to death or freedom, suddenly finds himself on the ride of his life.
Confederate General Hill later states Will’s act is the boldest thing he’s ever seen done.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Singing Beach
One sunny February morning, Sarah is walking her dog, Scout, at Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, north of Boston, Massachusetts near where she lives. At the water’s edge, she sees a clear glass bottle floating and thinks it is trash. Scout, wagging his tail, runs off to play with a furry friend and Sarah goes down to the water’s edge to collect something she hopes to stop heading out to sea.
As Sarah draws closer, she can not believe what she thinks she sees – a ‘message in a bottle.’ When she unscrews the top of the Nantucket Nectars bottle and draws out the papers inside, Sarah finds a second letter wrapped inside the first.
Reading the letters causes Sarah’s heart, and keyboard, to beat fast. Two letters written by sisters, who are mothers of young children, to their dead mother on her birthday. The letters weave a tale of two generations of women in complicated family relationships ravished by cancer and unfinished words and the ultimate fight for the sisters to forgive for the sake of their own happiness and the next generation.
“Dear Mom, Ari and I are here together today remembering you on your birthday. We came to the beach with Esme and Hugo, your grandchildren, to send you these letters. It’s called Singing Beach which reminded us of you. There’s too much to say in one letter but I’ll do my best. I miss you, especially when you were healthy. Being sick made you a different person. It was hard for you to find joy in the world…”
“Hi Mom. Today is your birthday. You would be 62. But you’re not, because you died 6 1/2 months ago. That’s what cancer does. I still think about the end a lot. Every day. I wish things had been different. I wish you weren’t so angry with us. I know you were angry to be dying. Who can even begin to imagine what that feels like? But I wish you weren’t angry with us. Because I’m sure you regret that. We never got to have our goodbye. We never got to talk about anything and we had so much to talk about. Why did you do that? Why? You must have been so, so very scared to push us away like that. And the truth is – I’m still upset with you. I’m angry with my dead mother. And it’s a terrible thing to bear…”
JACOB LEISLER: Early American Patriot
Leisler’s Rebellion – A Dress Rehearsal To the American Revolution
Genre: Historical Novel inspired by a True Story
In 1660, twenty year-old German born Jacob Leisler, son of a Calvinist French Reformed minister, immigrates to New Amsterdam/Netherland, today New York City, as a soldier with the West India Company. Soon after his arrival, Leisler sells and trades fur and tobacco becoming the third wealthiest man in the city.
Endearing himself to the common people, Leisler befriends a widowed mother and son. Like many in New York, they are French Huguenots who arrived as refugees fleeing religious persecution by Catholics in France. They are so destitute that a public tribunal decides they should be sold into slavery in order to pay their ship charges. Leisler, however, prevents the sale by purchasing their freedom.
Fast forwarding to 1683, Leisler is appointed a judge or “commissioner” of the court of admiralty in New York, a justice of the peace for New York City and County, and a militia captain. As the city divides into two defined factions by wealth, poverty, religions, and ethics, The English Revolution plays out in New York. Small shopkeepers, farmers, sailors, poor traders and artisans ally against landholders, merchants, rich fur-traders, lawyers and crown officers. Leisler, though wealthy, leads the former while the latter, a man named Nicholas Bayard, the nephew of Peter Stuyvesant, ex Director-General of New Netherland, and other representatives of aristocratic Hudson Valley families.
On the night of June 2, 1689, as supporters of England’s King James II are upon seizing Fort William to massacre their Dutch fellow-citizens, an armed mob gathers to overthrow the existing government. The group cries “Leisler” as they rush to his home. Leisler is popular with the men and probably the only wealthy resident in the province sympathizing with the Dutch lower classes. Within an hour Leisler receives the keys of the fort which had been seized. The revolutionaries take advantage of the fort containing all the public funds, the return of which Lieutenant Governor Nicholson demands in vain.
Four hundred of the new party sign an agreement to hold the fort “for the present Protestant power that reigns in England,” while a committee of ten of the city freeholders assume the powers of a provisional government, declaring Jacob Leisler in charge, commissioning him “captain of the fort” (known today as the Battery in Lower Manhattan).
Thus begins Leisler’s Rebellion, occurring in the midst of England’s Glorious Revolution. The Rebellion is a revolt reflecting colonial resentment against King James II during which Leisler calls the first Inter Colonial Congress in America, and brokers the largest New York land deal to date for immigrant Huguenots to settle on, while Nicholas Bayard escapes the city to avoid assassination.
But when an English major lands with two companies of soldiers, demanding the fort back, Leisler refuses, and chaos breaks lose. Leisler and a group of men, including his son in law, are under arrest, imprisoned for treason and murder, fighting for their lives and literally their heads, against judges who are political enemies under the influences of England, alcohol, and family ties, and whose acts are described as inhuman and ‘gross.’
A historical novel inspired by the true story, JACOB LEISLER: EARLY AMERICAN PATRIOT is written by a direct descendant – the 8x great granddaughter of Jacob Leisler and 9th great niece of Nicholas Bayard – Sarah Tracy Burrows. JACOB LEISLER: EARLY AMERICAN PATRIOT paints a picture of a courageous rebel, under the rule of England, during a pivotal period of early American history which, to date, has been under examined, and diverse European settlements – Native American and African populations – fused into a cosmopolitan colonial territory, fighting for individual, religious, and country freedom and justice.
ROUGH SEAS: CAPTAINING THE CHINA TRADE
Genre: Historical Fiction Inspired by a True Story
Young Captain Hiram Putnam, commissioned by the wealthy merchant, ship owner and philanthropist, Joseph Peabody, to steer ‘The China’ trade ship to the Far East, knows it will be a dangerous journey but sails away from his wife, who is expecting a baby, and his home of Salem, Massachusetts, full of confidence to fulfill his mission.
It is not long, how ever, before Captain Putnam and his crew find themselves fighting rough seas, deadly disease, and dangerous unknown territories and enemies as they sell and trade throughout the world and struggle to get the boat, goods, and themselves home again.