The Bingaman Civil War Letters: Nothing Strange or Interesting


Book: The Bingaman Civil War Letters: Nothing Strange or Interesting

Author: Larry E. Periman

Publisher: Mira Digital Publishing, 2014

ISBN-13: 9781631100956 hardcover

ISBN-10: 1631100955 hardcover

ISBN-13: 9781572330641 softcover

ISBN-10: 1572330643 softcover

Website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Teens and adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Biography

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Periman,Larry E.  The Bingaman Civil War Letters: Nothing Strange or Interesting (Published in 2014 by Mira Digital Publishing, Chesterfield, MO  63005).  Author Larry E. Periman, is (or at least was—I’m not sure of his current status) a member of the Marion County (IL) Genealogical and Historical Society in Salem, IL, of which I am also a member.  I remember when he gave a presentation about this book at one of our meetings.  The Bingaman Civil War Letters begins with five introductory chapters about a newlywed pioneer couple from Tennessee, Samuel and Elizabeth Hays, moving to Marion County, Illinois, in 1830. It describes their joys and struggles as they begin to tame the land and start a family with four children.   Samuel dies in 1836, and Elizabeth marries Peter Bingaman in 1841; she has four more children by him before he dies in 1847 and leaves her a widow for a second time.

     A few decades later the nation is under the cloud of a great civil war. Six of the seven sons of Elizabeth Bingaman serve in the Union Army. She saved over 80 letters in their original stamped envelopes which they wrote home. These letters are presented in this book with additional information about a variety of subjects including first-hand accounts of the battle of Hurricane Creek in Mississippi and the battle in Nashville, Tennessee, and a military execution which they observed. The family members who received them and preserved them were long since deceased and the existence of the letters was unknown until a blue bandanna about the size of a basketball was untied and they came tumbling out.

     As time permitted the letters were typed for easier reading, and the history of members of the immediate family was researched.  The letters were primarily from Adam Lewis Bingaman and his brother David Samuel Bingaman.  Adam was Mr. Periman’s great-great grandfather who fought for the union as a member of the Illinois 6th Cavalry. The book provides insight into early southern Illinois pioneer life, and gives considerable attention to the issues leading up to the Civil War including correspondence between North and South combatants just prior to the outbreak of the war. Most of the letters describe camp-life in and around Memphis, Tennessee.  There are a few instances where the “d” and “h” words appear in the letters, but very few, and anyone interested in the American Civil War will find the book fascinating.

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