My Dear Wife and Children

BOOK:  My Dear Wife and Children: Civil War Letters From a 2nd Minnesota Volunteer

PUBLISHED: Hardcover, 2014; Softcover, 2015

AUTHOR: Nick K. Adams

EDITOR: The Edit Team of Strategic Book Publishing

PUBLISHER: Strategic Book Publishing

SUMMARY:  What does a father write to his wife and young children when he’s gone to war? Does he explain why he left them? How does he answer their constant questions about his return? Which of his experiences does he relate, and which does he pass over? Should he describe his feelings of separation and loneliness?

These questions are as relevant today as they were over 150 years ago, when David Brainard Griffin, a corporal in Company F of the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, wrote to those he left behind on the family’s Minnesota prairie homestead while he fought to preserve the Union.

His letters cover the period from his enlistment at Minnesota’s Fort Snelling in September 1861, to his death in Georgia during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. One hundred of them were preserved and passed down in his family. They, along with one from his daughter as she asked the next generation to read her father’s words, have been carefully transcribed and annotated by a great-great-grandson, Nick K. Adams, allowing further generations to experience Griffin’s answers to these questions.

Filled with poignant images of his daily activities, his fears and exhilarations in military conflict, and his thoughts and emotions as the Civil War kept him apart from his family, these letters offer a fascinating insight into the personal experiences of a common soldier in the American Civil War.

BACK STORY: The last known copies from the original letters came to me more than 20 years ago. I immediately began using them as my primary resource for the final dozen years I taught a fourth/fifth grade social studies unit on the American Civil War. Upon retiring from teaching, I used some of the experiences from reading the letters to my classes as an inspiration of my first book, The Uncivil War: Battle in the Classroom. I then spent two years transcribing and annotating the letters into the present volume, and am currently in the last stage of writing the story of the family he left behind, describing life on the prairie while Pa’s gone to war.

WHY THIS TITLE? “My Dear Wife and Children” was the most common beginning of his letters home.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  His letters offer a wealth of personal information, not only about the Civil War as it was experienced by the common soldier, but also about what life was like during that period in a northern prairie setting as he responds to the issues his family must face without him.


“I have read many other collections of letters, and this is one of the best. Griffin was a patriotic and loyal soldier, as his highly literate letters reflect.

“This collection is well-written and well-edited, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in first-hand accounts from the viewpoint of a common soldier. His descriptions of the campaigns in which the 2nd Minnesota took part will make the book an invaluable addition to the library especially of those with an interest in the War’s Western Theater.” — Robert L. Durham, Civil War News.

“These letters bring to life a turbulent time in North American history. The corporal’s vivid accounts of his daily life, the long marches, the gruesome battles, and his unspeakable homesickness, make the facts of history all the more real.” — Readers’ Favorite Book Review – 5 stars!

“David Brainard Griffin, Corporal in the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, was a farmer, a homesteader, a devoted husband and father, and a man determined to do his duty to his country. He is attentive to the simplest details of daily life in the regiment — to the sounds and smells of camp; to the snuffling of the horses, the rough music of bands, the scent of damp firewood when the men break camp. He brings it all to life. But the strongest impression we have of this man is his love for his family. In the early letters, he declares it reassuringly. As the months go on and the battles go badly, we sense a deep need and longing for the safety and warmth his family provides for him. Either way, his concern for them never waivers.: — Dean Robertson, Author.

“I must admit that I slowed my reading as I approached the end of the book. Knowing that he died at Chickamauga, I wanted to keep him alive and well. But, that was simply an indication of how emotionally involved in Brainard’s life a reader can become. Nicely done…” — Michael Movius, President, Puget Sound Civil War Round Table.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Nick K. Adams is a retired elementary school teacher and an avid Civil War Re-enactor and historical speaker who lives in Washington State. At book signings, he often portrays Minnesota’s 1861 governor, Alexander Ramsey, who sent his great-great-grandfather off to the war. His first book, The Uncivil War: Battle in the Classroom, was inspired from his use of these letters in the curriculum of his fourth grade classroom. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his third book, which tells the story of the family Griffin left behind on the Minnesota prairie, as revealed in the letters he wrote home.


WHERE TO BUY IT: Barnes & BNoble, Amazon, direct from the author at

PRICE:  $31, harcover; $19.95, softcover.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: “Contact” link at


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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