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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Love and Valor: Intimate Civil War Letters Between Captain Jacob And Emeline Ritner by Charles F. Larimer is a poignant and heart-warming love story that unfolds through letters written during the Civil War between Captain Jacob and his wife Emelie Ritner. The letters give glimpses of the heart and thoughts of an Iowa soldier, farmer, and teacher, and a loving and strong woman who maintained their family and farm during the war. The letters tell a story of great love, devotion, anguish, loneliness, and slavery and will tremendously move readers as the tragic stories of deaths from the war unfolds in the pages. This book, originally published in 2000, has more updates now with additional stories and new pictures of Jacob and Emeline being added.
The contrasting stories of Jacob -- who traveled across the South, taking with him a brother, brother-in-law, friends, and sons of neighbors -- and Emeline -- who stayed at home taking care of their four children and the family farm alone during the war -- is quite interesting to read and the challenges and difficulties faced by them, coupled with their separation, are what makes their love story and fondness for each other special and memorable. It also shows how two people dealt with their separation and adverse situations in life without giving up on each other and keeping their romance alive despite the trying times.
There are also letters written to various other people which give readers images of the Civil War, and Charles F. Larimer also gives historical sketches of the 25th Iowa Infantry for readers to know more about Jacob's stint as a Captain in the Union Army. Love and Valor is an engaging read that not only captures the tone and mood that prevailed in America during the Civil War but also how two people in love managed to keep their romance alive through letters.