The Civil War and the Wylie Family
These two items, written toward the end of the Civil War, show Theophilus A. Wylie's political opinions. Like many Americans, Wylie supported Lincoln and worried that without his leadership the Civil War would end disastrously.
Less than one year after Lincoln was elected to his second term, he was assasinated by John Wilkes Booth. Wylie expressed his sadness at this event, and his fears for the nation's future.
The Civil War and Daily Life
These two letters written to Theophilus Wylie exemplify how the Civil War affected people. Both discuss war news along with more personal stories about the ways in which life went on, despite the tumultous events happening between 1861 and 1863. One was authored by a friend of his and the other by one of his students.
Death of Richard Wylie - Union Soldier
Richard Dennis Wylie (1841 - 1861) was Theophilus A. Wylie's eldest son. He was not a very talented scholar, but showed great promise as an artist. He enrolled in the Union army with his friend Sam Dodds. Both died of disease before they could see combat. These items focus on T. A. Wylie's struggles with the death of his son, no doubt similar to many others whose children died or were killed in combat between 1861 and 1865.
These items reflect a wide variety of perspectives on Richard's life and death. Two letters dating from Richard Wylie's time in the army show that Theophilus Wylie is concerned with Richard's physical and moral well-being. Theophilus Wylie encouraged his son to read his Bible and to avoid drinking alcohol.
In his diaries, Theophilus Wylie mentioned Richard's death several times. One entry simply recorded the fact of his death. Another discussed the receipt of his body in Bloomington. Wylie also reflected on Richard's death several times. Once on Thanksgiving, and in January, a few months after his death, Wylie wrote a moving inscription in Latin (in caption at left) showing how much Richard's death affected him.
Theophilus Wylie's friends showed great sympathy. James Woodburn, a member of Wylie's Presbyterian Church wrote to Wylie discussing the actions the church has taken to honor Richard. W. S. Stormont, a local farmer, responded to some earlier correspondence from Wylie because Stormont had heard about Richard's death.
These items are only one example of a story that was repeated in many different ways for the young men who died during the Civil War. Understanding how Richard's death affected both the Wylie family and the larger Bloomington community can help to understand the complex ways that the war impacted both Indiana University and the state of Indiana more generally.