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Till Death Do Us Part

Salvatore G. Cilella (editor)

Major General Emory Upton (1839–1881) served in all three branches of the U.S. military during the American Civil War. Lauded as a war hero, he later earned acclaim for his influence on military reforms, which lasted well beyond his lifetime. An account of Upton’s life is not complete, however, without a look into his brief, yet passionate, marriage to Emily Norwood Martin (1846–1870). This edition of Emory and Emily’s letters unveils the private life of a brilliant Civil War personality. It also introduces readers to the devout young woman who earned the general’s fanatic devotion before her untimely death from tuberculosis. Until now, only a few of the couple’s intimate letters have been published. During the years he spent editing and publishing Emory Upton’s correspondence, Salvatore G. Cilella Jr. deliberately set aside the general’s voluminous letters to his wife. Unfortunately, as Cilella explains in his editorial notes, Emily’s letters to Emory did not survive, but he was able to draw on the rich trove of letters Emily wrote to her mother and father while on her honeymoon and during her stays in Key West, Nassau, and Atlanta. Together, both sets of letters form a poignant narrative of the general’s tender love for his new wife and her reciprocal affection as they attempted to create a normal life together despite her declining health. The life of an army wife could be grueling, and despite her declining health, Emily longed to perform the role expected of her. It was not meant to be. Unwittingly, she and Emory chose the worst places for her to recover—Key West and Nassau—where the high humidity and heat must have exacerbated her difficulty breathing. She died in Nassau, far away from her husband. Eleven years later, racked by a sinus tumor and likely still grieving from his lost love, Upton committed suicide at the age of forty-one. Till Death Do Us Part offers a powerful—and poignant—tale of two star-crossed lovers against the backdrop of post–Civil War America. In addition, the volume gives readers a fascinating glimpse into gender roles and marital relations in the nineteenth century.


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Salvatore G. Cilella (editor)


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