Kiss Me Goodbye: Finding Love Among the Ashes of the Civil War
In 1861, the author’s great-grandfather, James McCormick, is an Irish Catholic immigrant who lives in Potsdam, New York. He is a bright, mechanically-inclined young man who works for a carriage manufacturer. He falls in love with the boss’s daughter, Sarah Ann Cutting. Her father does not approve of James as a suitor, but strikes a deal with him. James agrees to serve in the War Between the States in Mr. Cutting’s place, in return for which Mr. Cutting agrees to let James marry Sarah Ann upon his return.
The letters in this book are what the author imagines they might have written to each other during the course of the war. She has based many of the military events and other details of the story on a history of James’s regiment, the 60th regiment of New York State Volunteers, written by the regiment’s chaplain. Sarah Ann’s letters reveal her concern for James’s safety, her worry that her father will not keep his promise, and her preparations for marriage. James’s letters are full of descriptions of military life, the battles in which he has fought (Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain), his love for Sarah Ann and his desire to return home to her.