Detailed reports bring Civil War alive for readers

Posted February 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The Columbia Daily Tribune’s award-winning Civil War series, Life During Wartime, is being offered to readers in a new book that will be the first of a multi- volume set.

Since January 2011, Tribune reporter Rudi Keller’s daily reports have put readers on the shoulders of generals as they write battle orders, on the front lines with the troops and in the living rooms of everyday citizens as they record the events around them in letters and diaries.

Life During Wartime focuses on eight counties of Central Missouri Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Randolph highlighting the war’s impact on the people who lived there and the events that took place within their borders. The larger events of the war in Missouri are also extensively covered to give context and richness to the reports. In Volume I, Keller chronicles the events of 1861, when Missouri was torn between North and South.

The names that fill the pages are familiar to area residents. There is a Rollins Street in Columbia, in Centralia and in Moberly, all named after U.S. Rep. James Rollins. Moberly itself was founded immediately after the war and was named for a militia colonel.

But Life During Wartime does more than just reveal the backgrounds of people whose names adorn streets or buildings in our hometowns. In an as-it-happens format, readers can relive the political debates over basic principles that find echoes today and follow the people who endured the war ant is hardships.

“For the first time, thousands of ordinary Missourians were caught in a government machinery that cared about more than the taxable value of their property or their Census data,” Keller wrote in the introduction to Volume I. “The average citizens tried to make a living while fearing that one side or the other would take revenge on them over politics. They swelled the military ranks and filled miserable prisons, dying and suffering by the thousands.”

“It is the most personally fulfilling thing I have ever done in journalism,” Keller wrote in the preface to Volume I, which covers 1861. “And I find that it is the thing I have done that seems to mean more to people than just about anything I have attempted.”

The price for each copy is $39.95, but for a limited time, buyers can obtain their copy for $29.95, with delivery guaranteed in the spring. The pre-publication discount period ends Feb. 28, 2013.

Purchasers can place their order by calling (573) 815-1600 or (800) 333-6799, ext. 1600. Order forms are also being printed in the Tribune.

Rudi Keller covers state government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune. He is a 1986 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.