"Daydreams and Nightmares uses the private letters and other records of an Upshur County, Virginia, family to reveal through their own words and experiences how the secession crisis during the winter of 1860-61 and its aftermath affected them. As a member of the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, George Berlin was separated from his wife Susan and their children (also from his brother and his wife, the sister of his own wife) for several months on the eve of the American Civil War. After he switched from opposing secession to endorsing it, he had to flee his hometown and was separated from his family again for over a year during the first part of the war. The large corpus of surviving letters between George and Susan Berlin contain vivid explanations of their hopes and fears and of their and their children's experiences during those two long separations. It is a dramatic story unique to them but comparable to what thousands of other Americans experienced during that time. It is in part a love story, but it is also a story about ordinary people in extraordinary events. They lost their home and property in western Virginia and had to resettle in eastern Virginia. As a consequence, the extended family of which they were a part became separated, too. Their story intersects major themes in nineteenth-century American history, including the impact of the Civil War and the rapidly emerging field of family history"--Provided by publisher.
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