The Longfellow Family in the Civil War

The Civil War deeply affected the Longfellow family. Three close relatives fought for the Union during the conflict: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s son Charles, nephew Stephen Longfellow, and his wife’s half-brother Nathan Appleton Jr. All three were wounded in action.

The war impacted the home front as well. Longfellow’s daughters supported the war effort by making socks and bandages for soldiers and collecting patriotic souvenirs. Family correspondence exhibited a constant state of worry about events on the battlefields and in Washington. And the war fueled Longfellow’s poetry, acting as the impetus for poems with themes covering national unity, bravery, sacrifice, and tragedy.

For the Longfellows all this took place against the backdrop of intimate personal loss: Henry’s wife Fanny tragically died from an accident at home in July 1861, just three months after the war’s first shots were fired at Fort Sumter.

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Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site

Last updated: May 12, 2022