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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release May 10, 2010

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Historical Museum presents Civil War documentary May 21

“Love and Valor: The Intimate Civil War Letters” narrated by Tony Award-winner Brian Dennehy

(DES MOINES) – The moving story of an Iowa couple separated by the American Civil War comes to Des Moines this month.

“Love and Valor – The Intimate Civil War Letters,” an independent film narrated by Tony Award-winner Brian Dennehy, will be shown at 7 p.m. May, 21, 2010, at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. A wine and chocolate reception will be at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10; $5 for children 12 and younger.

“Love and Valor” is based on the book “Love and Valor – Intimate Civil War Letters Between Captain Jacob and Emeline Ritner” by Charles Larimer, who is a great-great-grandson of the Ritners. Jacob and Emeline Ritner lived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Jacob Ritner, a Union captain, was a teacher, farmer and abolitionist before the war. He served in the 1st Iowa Infantry and the 25th Iowa Infantry, and was in service almost the entire four years of the war. He participated in Wilson’s Creek, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the Carolina’s Campaign.

Through his letters, viewers learn about patriotism, loneliness, anguish at the death of loved ones, and slavery. Meanwhile, Emeline’s letters reveal her daunting task: raising four small children, managing the family farm and dealing with other women in town.

In the movie, Larimer talks about the strange stories surrounding his discovery of the letters – all while standing in cemeteries by the actual graves of the people mentioned in the letters. Larimer will be available for questions following the movie.

During the event, the State Historical Society of Iowa will display several Ritner letters, which are held at the State Historical Library & Special Collections in Iowa City, and the State Historical Museum will exhibit the 25th Iowa Infantry Battle Flag. The MacKenzie Highlanders Pipe and Drums, and pianist David Steenson, and his daughter, violist Elaina, will perform.

In addition, participants can order copies of Sen. Dennis Black’s new book, “Profiles of Valor: Iowa’s Medal of Honor Recipients of the Civil War,” which documents Iowa’s Medal of Honor recipients from the American Civil War.

In his book, Black provides an accurate account of the deeds of valor that earned 56 Iowans the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military recognition of valor beyond the call of duty, during the Civil War.

Available through the State Historical Society of Iowa, “Profiles of Valor” provides biographical information of the recipients, as well as a history of events in Iowa before, during and after the Civil War.

In conversations with Medal of Honor recipients, Black became inspired to research thousands of official documents in an attempt to identify the medal’s recipients with connections to the state of Iowa, from the Civil War through Vietnam.

“I’m honored to know many Medal of Honor recipients, and have had the honor of discussing with them their actions while putting their lives on the line in leading and protecting their comrades during battle,” he said.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will be directed to the State Historical Society of Iowa for research, preservation, restoration, and interpretation of Civil War muster rolls.

The book is available for $29.95 (softbound) and $44.95 (hardcover), plus $5 per book for shipping, if needed. Additional information is available by contacting The Museum Store at the State Historical Museum at 515-281-7395.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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