Jay Paisley: The Huffman Letters

On episode 32 of Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast, we have a conversation with Jay Paisley, author of The Huffman Letters: Civil War Letters to Beaver County, Pennsylvania. 

“In 1861, sixteen year old William Henry Huffman enlisted in the Union Army,” writes Jay Paisley, chronicler of Huffman’s family letters.  “Like Henry Fleming, from Stephen Crane’s classic fictional novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Huffman did his duty.  Reading his letters, you will see the Civil War through the eyes of a real soldier, not a fictional character.”

Henry Huffman of Darlington Township, Beaver County, served with the 100th Pa Regiment (Roundheads) based in Lawrence County, he participated in over 20 battles, including Fredericksburg and Vicksburg, and he was a prisoner of war.  For the rest of his life, Huffman suffered the effects of war.

“The more things change, they more they stay the same,” Jay comments, referring to Huffman’s struggle to collect on his veteran’s disability pension — a meager sum that today would equal less than $300 a month.

Born in 1844, Huffman led a very long life as a gentleman farmer and activist in veterans’ causes.  At 92, he died in 1936 under the care of a veterans hospital in Florida; it was a life of first hand historical experience and knowledge spanning the lives of Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler.

This episode was recorded September 30, 2016.  Host: Kevin Farkas.  Guest: Jay Paisley.  Audiography: Kevin Farkas.  Music (available at Soundcloud.com):  Zemoutonnoir (“Lonely Rain Demo Version”), Woody McKenszie (“Five Steps Down Harmony”), Abbey Fiddler (“Hatchet D”).  ©Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast/The Social Voice Project.  All rights reserved.

This Podcast Episode is Hearing and Visually Accessible

This presentation has been specifically designed for those with hearing and visual impairments. It includes both audio and text.  Modifications to the volume and size of print of this page can be made through your computer’s adaptive display settings. 


Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast features conversations with those who tell veterans’ stories in creative and interesting ways, such as oral historians, authors, poets, playwrights, and photographers.

This podcast is a production of The Social Voice Project, an innovative public media initiative dedicated to capturing, preserving and sharing the voices and stories of our time through the first-hand, authentic accounts of lived experiences we call oral histories. The podcast was formerly produced by the award-winning Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative.