Adjunct Professor Virginia Cornue publishes book of Civil War Letters

By: Andrew Mees, Director of Institutional Communications and Campaign Marketing     

Adjunct professor and author Dr. Virginia Cornue will be appearing at Bloomfield College's official campus bookstore (located on the ground floor of the Franklin Street Residence Hall) at 4 p.m. April 16 for a one-hour event highlighting the release of her new book, "So Much Blood: The Civil War Letters of CSA Private William Wallace Beard 1861-1865". 

The event is the first in the College’s new “Honors Program Campus Author Series”, which will feature the published work of the institution’s faculty members and provide a behind-the scenes look into the research behind the writing.

Co-edited by Dr. Cornue and historian William R. Trotter, the full-length book is a collection of letters written by Beard, a Confederate Civil War soldier; letters that were actually found in their original form by Cornue under her mother's bed in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The work also provides the historical, cultural and familial context surrounding the letters and highlights this research conducted by Cornue and the military research conducted by Trotter on Beard and his family.

“As a social scientist, I viewed merely publishing the letters by themselves an interesting prospect, but lacking in any real relevance to today's readers,” said Cornue. “I wanted to contextualize Beard through his letters to gain a better understanding today why an ordinary young North Carolina farmer would be an enthusiastic supporter of the Confederacy and what made slavery normal for him?

What was his point of view? What does he teach us now? These are a few of the questions that informed my wanting to put his correspondence in context as fully as possible, given the sometimes spotty historical documents that exist.”

Currently teaching Cultural Anthropology at Bloomfield and residing in Montclair, N.J., Dr. Cornue has previously published two fiction novels as part of the “Sandra Troux Mysteries Series”; “The Mystery of the Ming Connection” (2013) and “Masquerade on the Net” (2014). The third installment of the Mysteries, “Secrets at Abbott House”, will debut this summer. She is the author of the non-fiction “The Dragon’s Daughters Return”. In addition to her accolades as a writer, she also earned the prestigious Susan B. Anthony Award for Service and Advocacy for Women in 1998.

As part of the event, Cornue will conduct a presentation highlighting her research on her latest project, and how Private Beard’s legacy translates to today’s America.

“Beard was an acceptor of what was going on during the time period; he accepted the social and economic benefits he accrued because of the socioeconomic structure of the day,” said Cornue. “It is important for readers and students to understand the time period, and to understand that by being an acceptor, a person is just as responsible as those who are committing acts of racism. I hope this book and the words of Private Beard allows readers to heed that message.”

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