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SAGE Lecture on Two Civil Wars

SAGE Lecture on Two Civil Wars

(March 22, 2017) As part of the ongoing McNeese State University spring SAGE series, Katherine Jeffrey - a transplanted Canadian - will give her presentation, “Two Civil Wars: The Curious Shared Journal of a Baton Rouge Schoolgirl and a Union Sailor on the USS Essex,” at 3 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the McNeese SEED Center. Book cover

Based on her book of the same title, Jeffrey’s lecture revolves around the incredible piece of history that she uncovered hidden away in a French-Canadian farmhouse for more than a century. She found a Civil War diary with not one, but two authors – one a soldier and the other a schoolgirl. 

Titled "An Abstract Journal Kept by William L. Park, of the U.S. Gunboat Essex During the American Rebellion," the journal’s exceptional narrative recounts the chaos of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a sailor navigating the waterways of the Mississippi. Part of a rare body of Civil War warship accounts, Park’s diary relates his experiences with the fledgling ironclad Navy and the peril, and mundaneness, of war.
And yet the diary doesn’t start out this way. Instead, the first journal entries are those of Celeste Repp, a Southern teenager and boarding student at the short-lived Baton Rouge’s St. Mary's Academy.

How did the writings of two people – separated by age, sex, language and geographical location – manage to come together in the same notebook? Over the next two decades, Jeffrey painstakingly pieced together the history behind the strange diary’s two narrators and the circumstances that brought their two very different stories together.

Jeffrey is a freelance editor and writer and her opinion pieces, poems and essays have appeared in both Canadian and American publications. “Two Civil Wars” is her first full-length history volume. She lives on Lake Whitney in central Texas with her husband David, who teaches at Baylor University.

For more information or to register, call 337-475-5616 or visit

Persons needing accommodations as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the ADA Coordinator at 337-475-5428, voice; 337-475-5960, fax; 337-562-4227, TDD/TTY, hearing impaired; or by email at