Tonight is the premier of “Mercy Street” on PBS. I always appreciate historical works done well, and from the video, it appears that this new series scores on that account.
The reason I bring it to your attention here is the main character, Mary Phinney. Mary is a New England girl who goes to the South as a nurse during the Civil War. I saw her and thought, “Emilie’s mother.” The character looks so much like her.
Emily Francis Boles was born in 1837 and was 24 years old when the Civil War began. The character Mary Phinney is thirty, a little older—the age, actually, of Emilie’s father, George Baker, who turned thirty in July, 1862.
It’s good to keep this perspective in mind, and that’s why I’ll be watching as the series begins tonight. These characters are the generation of Emilie’s parents and grandparents. The Civil War was the great event of their lifetimes. If you see a baby born, think of Emilie. She was born just after the war’s end, September 5, 1866.
One of Emilie Loring’s best characteristics is her adaptability, her up-to-date currency, book after book. Her early origins wouldn’t necessarily have guaranteed that.
“Different times, different brands of courage.” That’s how Emilie saw it, and I’ll be watching “Mercy Street” to appreciate how true that was.