Dedication: In Their Own Words
Friends of Raymond is proud to announce the arrival of Rebecca Drake's latest book, In Their Own Words: Soldiers Tell the Story of the Battle of Raymond. The book, written by Becky Drake, and designed by Jim Drake, will be formally dedicated on Saturday, April 21, 3:00 p.m. at the Confederate Cemetery. The dedication of the book will honor all soldiers, Blue and Gray, who fought on the Raymond Battlefield. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Friends of Raymond to help with battlefield preservation.
Lester Senter, concert artist and a General with Friends of Raymond will make an appearance at the Dedication Ceremony and perform two numbers. Senter's Civil War album, Somebody's Darling, was also donated to Friends of Raymond to help with the funding of the Raymond battlefield.
The idea to write a book telling the story of the Battle of Raymond in the soldier's own words was conceived several years ago. "In our free time, Jim and I often surfed the Internet looking for old Civil War diaries and we were amazed at the things that we found regarding the Battle of Raymond," Becky commented. "It became challenging to see how much each of us could discover . I'll have to admit that Jim won the prize. He unearthed the old diary of Gouldsmith D. Molineaux, a Union soldier serving with the 8th Illinois Infantry. Molineaux was a wonderful diarist who fought through the entire Vicksburg Campaign. Following the War, the diary almost went into oblivion. It was passed along to his widow, Esther Molineaux - then later - to the wife of a Lutheran minister. Eventually, the diary was donated to the Library Archives at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois."
The Drakes are very excited about the discovery of the Molineaux diary. After getting copyright permission from Augustana College, a portion of the diary was used for the book cover. The entry featured on the cover page captures the events of May 12, the Battle of Raymond and May 13th as the Union Army left Raymond. "I had fun creating the cover page," commented Jim. "I could just visualize the old handwritten diary as a front cover - and Becky found the perfect Confederate soldier's picture to accent the diary. The solider on the front of the book was a young private named C.W. Coker fighting with the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. His picture depicts a young, married soldier far away from home. The look in his eyes is desolate. It's almost haunting to see. In order to use young Coker's photograph on the front cover, we first had to trace down the owner of the photograph and get copyright permission."
"In order to research the long forgotten soldiers who fought in Raymond, I had to purchase numerous rare books as well as to trace down the Official Records of the War," Becky commented. "In Their Own Words features quotes from seventeen out of print books, twenty-one diaries, and twenty-two old newspaper and magazine clippings. At least six of the books purchased were written in the 1880s. Eventually, I plan to donate all of the books to the Battlefield Museum."
In their Own Words also includes a listing of the soldiers, Blue and Gray, known to have fought in the Battle of Raymond. "This is the first book to feature a listing of soldiers known to have fought," states Becky. "Even though 3,500 Confederate soldiers from the 3rd Tennessee, 10th Tennessee, 41st Tennessee, 50th Tennessee, 7th Texas and the First Tennessee Battalion fought during the Battle of Raymond we really don't know for sure who was really here - not without seeing some kind of documentation. After reading Flavel C. Barber's 1861-1864 roster of the 3rd Tennessee, I was shocked to see how many soldiers were absent from the Battle of Raymond due to sickness, drunkenness, desertion, cowardice, and other causes. Statistics say there were 3,500 Confederate soldiers and 12,000 Union soldiers on the regimental rolls. That doesn't necessarily mean they all fought in the Battle of Raymond. I read the record of one poor fellow with the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. He missed three major battles due to drunkenness. Finally, in 1864, the last mention of his name was at the Battle of Chickamauga where he was last seen inebriated. That was sad to read. The soldiers listed In Their Own Words are only those actually known to have fought."
Becky and Jim agree that one particular diarist stood out during their year of research. His name was Osborn H. Oldroyd, a 19 year soldier fighting with the 20th Ohio Infantry. "Osborn was a sensitive kind of soldier, " states Jim. "He suffered with asthma - was rather sickly - and definitely not your typical soldier. He was very poetic The diary begins on May 1st, 1863, when the Union Army landed at Bruinsburg, and goes through the end of the Vicksburg Siege on July 4th, 1863. Oldroyd's writings give us a wonderful idea of the events that happened not only during the Battle of Raymond but the entire Vicksburg Campaign."
In Their Own Words: Soldier's Tell the Story of the Battle of Raymond will debut on April 21st at the dedication ceremony held in conjunction with the Discovery Tour of the Vicksburg Campaign. The book will also be sold at the Raymond Country Fair and the Re-enactment of the Battle of Raymond. Following these major events, where Becky will be on hand for book signings, the book will be sold at the Vicksburg Military Park, the Raymond Drug Store, and other designated sites in Raymond.
"This book has consumed almost two years of our lives," states Becky. "While working on the book and reading the thoughts and emotions of the soldiers who fought - they became like old friends. Writing the book was an humbling experience. By telling their story In Their Own Words, Jim and I feel we are contributing something to the history of our town that will remain forever."
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Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 1998 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.