17 August 2022 • Alums Winch '90 Publishes Book on Family's Civil War Correspondence

In her recent book, Sarah Burrows Winch ’90, P’25, under the pen name Sarah Tracy Burrows, shares a collection of private, family letters written and sent home by an ancestor during the Civil War, providing personal accounts of the war and time.  

Yours Affectionately, Osgood: Colonel Osgood Vose Tracy’s Letters Home from the Civil War, 1862-1865, with a preface and epilogue by Winch and context and analysis provided by historian Ryan W. Keating, gives insight into the life of a soldier in the volunteer 122nd New York Infantry Regiment, through letters home between September 1862 to the end of the war in May 1865. In addition, included are letters written to and by Tracy’s younger brother, William Gardner Tracy, who also served in the war and was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his part during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

“I felt strongly that the letters should be published and the story be told in film, and I wanted to be the one to make that happen," -Sarah Burrows Winch '90. 

Osgood Tracy, Winch’s maternal, great, great grandfather, shares his thoughts on political and social movements of the time, such as the Union’s war efforts and the abolitionist movement, in addition to his commitment to his family, including widowed mother, Sarah Osgood Tracy, and his sweetheart, Nellie Sedgwick. 

Winch says the reason she wrote the book came from Tracy’s own request to his mother. “I trust you stow all my letters away in my chest for I wish to preserve them,” Tracy says in a letter from Sept. 30, 1863.

As a young child, Winch’s maternal grandfather shared the letters with her, building her interest in Tracy’s life and history in general.

“When I about 10 years old, I actually experienced an ‘epiphany’ moment which I still recall to this day, standing next to my grandfather as he talked about the stories,” Winch says. “I felt strongly that the letters should be published and the story be told in film, and I wanted to be the one to make that happen.” 

“These wartime letters from a Union Army officer to his mother, interspersed with his later accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg and his capture at the Battle of the Wilderness and subsequent escape, describe a range of soldier experiences: camp life, marches and battles, bonding with comrades, the highs and lows of morale, and homesickness. The reader will emerge with a broadened understanding and appreciation for the service and sacrifices of Civil War soldiers,” says James M. McPherson P’93, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom. Winch met McPherson through her friend, Cynthia “Cricket” Allen ’92 who is friends with McPherson’s daughter, Jenny ’93.  

The book can be purchased from Kent State University Press, Barnes and Noble or Amazon. A portion of the book’s proceeds will go to preserving Civil War battlefields, along with the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Winch is the president of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History. At William Smith, she graduated with degrees in English and history. She is married to Peter Winch ’91 and the couple has three sons, Ryan, Alex, and Andrew. Andrew is currently a sophomore at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and is the sixth in the Burrows and Winch families to attend the college, including his grandfather, William P. Burrows ’52, P'85, P'90, GP'15, GP'25, who along with his wife (Winch’s mother) Ann Tracy preserved the letter collection after Ann’s father died.

For more of Winch's work, including photography, visit sarahtracyburrows.com