April 11, 2024

Book of Civil War letters from student-soldier provides glimpse of history

Beloit’s chapter of the Society for Learning Unlimited, a nonprofit organization that offers opportunities to explore cultural and intellectual interests, hosted a Civil War-centered event at First Congregational Church last September.

Heavy Marching by Lucius S. Moseley book cover. “Heavy Marching” by Lucius S. Moseley, edited by Sara DeLuca, University of Wisconsin Press, 2023Sara DeLuca read from her recent book, Heavy Marching, a collection of transcribed letters written by Lucius “Lute” Moseley, a Preparatory Department (later Beloit Academy) student and Beloit native, during his time in the Union Army.

College Archivist Emeritus Fred Burwell’86, who provided research help and fact-checked the book, introduced the audience to Beloit College’s Civil War history, when many college and preparatory school students joined the Union ranks. DeLuca then read from her book between performances of popular wartime tunes by pianist Susan Hellerud — DeLuca’s twin sister — and vocalist Don Ofstedal.

A farmer’s son, Mosely was 19 when he enlisted in the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in Racine in 1862. His frequent correspondence with his parents and brother Eddie document his life throughout the war, from his internment at a Confederate prisoner of war camp to his return to action and participation in General William Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. DeLuca’s notes provide historical context to Mosely’s wartime experiences, but she largely lets his words speak for themselves.

“Mosely is the writer; I’m just the editor,” DeLuca said. The Moseley family lent DeLuca an almost complete transcribed collection of the letters after her chance encounter with relative Esther Moseley 17 years ago. DeLuca returned to the project during the pandemic with permission from other family members.

Moseley describes his and his company’s locations, camp life, squabbles between officers, and grueling marches and battles with a narrative flair. His descriptions and thoughts are an insightful portrait of both the crucial and mundane elements of a soldier’s life during the Civil War.

DeLuca is a memoirist and poet. She’s written three chapbooks of poetry, as well as the memoir Dancing the Cows Home and family biography The Crops Look Good. She officially launched Heavy Marching at a Beloit Public Library event last July. She is the grandmother of Emma Adams’21, who recently received a master’s degree in history from Johns Hopkins University.


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