Undiscovered Civil War letters found at Connecticut museum

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Marie Secondo was near the end of her first year as curator of the Barnes Museum in Southington when, in the midst of organizing a supply closet, she came across a small shoebox that held a time-erasing bundle. Inside were letters, most of them still in the envelopes in which they'd been sent. She opened a few and, as she recalled, said, "Holy cow, can these be real?"

Though the letters were dated nearly a century and a half in the past, they were in fine enough shape to convey a sense of immediacy.

"You'd be surprised," she said. "The paper quality back then was excellent."

Some still showed the stain of peach preserves from a spilled container sent from a Southington farm to a war front nearly 150 years ago.

The writing was equally fresh, and Secondo found herself submerged in the words, so much so that when she read the last of the 152 missives, she felt a mood of depression at having reached the end. It was as though the letters had been written to her, as though she'd been with the person who had written them.

Secondo spent the following year, 2005, mostly in her spare time, transcribing the letters, and they're now available for anyone to peruse via the Web site of the Southington Public Library: www.southingtonlibrary.org.

Readers are likely to find themselves just as entranced with the story of Capt. Andrew Upson, as told mostly through his letters to his wife in Plantsville during the Civil War. Upson was involved in many of the major battles of the conflict and was wounded and taken prisoner in one of its most significant. Because he was an educated man, a graduate of Yale College, his writing is erudite and insightful, often touching, and at moments rises to poetic sublimity....

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