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Torn by War: The Civil War Journal of Mary Adelia Byers Paperback – October 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

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“Torn By War is a rich personal account of the middle class Confederate civilian experience in a geographically isolated, yet militarily contested, region (NE Arkansas and the town of Batesville) not often addressed in the published Civil War literature. Its value is only enhanced by the precociously perceptive nature of young Mary Byers and her unusually expressive writing. Indeed, social historians would do well to add this journal to any bibliography hosting the finest examples of female Civil War diarists, journal writers, and correspondents.”—Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors website.


“Phillips has done a remarkable job of editing this journal. There are copious notes that add to the journal’s interest and flavor. Phillips, a descendant of Mary Byers, has inherited her not inconsiderable gift. What emerges from these pages is a brisk, well-written and highly literate volume that does not fail to entertain.” —Journal of South Texas


“If one is interested in the Confederate “home front” during the Civil War, this book is well worth reading, as it focuses on social rather than military history. The book belongs in the library of anyone interested in the Trans-Mississippi region during the war.” —The Journal of America's Military Past


"Mary Adelia Byers was only fifteen when she began keeping a diary in 1862. Her home in Batesville, Arkansas lay on the western edge of the Confederacy and traded hands six times during the Civil War. Though Mary never saw battle or true privation, she helped nurse the wounded and witnessed the upheaval of her agriculturally-dependent society, especially after the Emancipation Act. She also partied and counted her beaux as avidly as Scarlett O’Hara. Torn by War presents Mary and her world to modern readers. Samuel Phillips has done a superb job annotating Mary’s diary entries to introduce readers to her acquaintances and relatives. Maps, photographs, and historical accounts add vital background. Mary’s diary does not include battle scenes or provide overarching insight into national history on the diarist’s part. However, Torn by War does provide readers and Civil War researchers a clear view of civilian life during the War Between the States as experienced by an unusually mature and observant young woman"—Jo Ann Butler, Historical Novel Society


"Phillips and Lankford . . . reveal just how fascinating and multifaceted a document Byers's diary is and how much we owe to Phillips for sharing his great-grandmother with us." —Arkansas Historical Quarterly

About the Author

Samuel R. Phillips was raised near Batesville and is a descendant of Mary Adelia Byers. A graduate of Brooks School and the California Institute of Technology, he is a mechanical engineer and manufacturing consultant.


George E. Lankford is Emeritus Professor of Folklore at Lyon College, Batesville. He is the editor of Bearing Witness: Memories of Arkansas Slavery and author of many articles on Independence County history.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (October 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806143959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806143958
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katherine on April 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because I'm researching my family tree, and the Byers are a large part of it. As an author of history books, I am impressed with how things such as maps and genealogical information are included, as well as a description of such things as social standards and political views from Mary Adelia's era.to help give readers a better understanding of the war in an area that little has been written about.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Adelia Byers was only fifteen when she began keeping a diary in 1862. Her home in Batesville, Arkansas lay on the western edge of the Confederacy, and traded hands six times during the Civil War. Though Mary never saw battle or true privation, she helped nurse the wounded and witnessed the upheaval of her agriculturally-dependent society, especially after the Emancipation Act. She also partied and counted her beaux as avidly as Scarlett O’Hara.

Torn by War presents Mary and her world to modern readers. Samuel Phillips has done a superb job annotating Mary’s diary entries to introduce readers to her acquaintances and relatives. Maps, photographs, and historical accounts add vital background. Mary’s diary does not include battle scenes, or provide overarching insight into national history on the diarist’s part. However, Torn by War does provide readers and Civil War researchers a clear view of civilian life during the War Between the States as experienced by an unusually mature and observant young woman.
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By Pam Jolly on October 5, 2014
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Great book.
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By Janice Mitchell on May 19, 2015
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Very good.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By amelia gough on March 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
Wonderful book. Incredible diary written by a young girl. I am proud of my dad for accomplishing this book. His triplet grand kids thinks he is amazing. Congratulations dad!
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