- Virginia Johnson
In antebellum Fredericksburg, the Knox family was rather well-off and respected by their community. The family home at 1200 Princess Anne Street, now the Kenmore Inn, was nigh unto their house of worship at St. George’s Episcopal Church. They ran a successful business and had a pleasant life filled with many luxuries.
Yet by the time the Civil War was over, sons Robert and James Knox had experienced the dire consequences of battle from trench to prison camp. The rest of the family, forced to evacuate the Fredericksburg several times, learned to live as refugees and take care of themselves as well as the people they met.
Through it all, they wrote letters to one another. If the correspondents touched lightly on their suffering, still they gave enough indication of how things were that their family members would have understood that the world as they had known it was shattered, and they would all be very fortunate to survive.
The Circle Unbroken: Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg is a transcription of the letters between the sons, their sister and their parents. Kept safe for 150 years, the correspondence is now available to read easily, thanks to the efforts of many local historians, including the staff at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center and Historic Fredericksburg Foundation. Besides transcriptions of the letters, the editors have included supplemental historical information—an annotated list of people mentioned, photographs, maps, and an index.
The Circle Unbroken also tells what might be termed “the rest of the story.” Of the three brothers pictured on the cover, two returned. The other was lost. But not to battle.
If you enjoy The Circle Unbroken, you might also like Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War and Between Two Armies at Fredericksburg: The Captain Benjamin Franklin Wells Family Papers.