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How did Civil War soldiers endure the brutal and unpredictable existence of army life during the conflict? This question is at the heart of Peter S. Carmichael's sweeping new study of men at war. Based on close examination of the letters and records left behind by individual soldiers from both the North and the South, Carmichael explores the totality of the Civil War experience--the marching, the fighting, the boredom, the idealism, the exhaustion, the punishments, and the frustrations of being away from families who often faced their own dire circumstances. Carmichael focuses not on what soldiers thought but rather how they thought. In doing so, he reveals how, to the shock of most men, well-established notions of duty or disobedience, morality or immorality, loyalty or disloyalty, and bravery or cowardice were blurred by war. Digging deeply into his soldiers' writing, Carmichael resists the idea that there was "a common soldier" but looks into their own words to find common threads in soldiers' experiences and ways of understanding what was happening around them. In the end, he argues that a pragmatic philosophy of soldiering emerged, guiding members of the rank and file as they struggled to live with the contradictory elements of their violent and volatile world. Soldiering in the Civil War, as Carmichael argues, was never a state of being but a process of becoming.
As a leading Confederate general, Braxton Bragg (1817-1876) earned a reputation for incompetence, for wantonly shooting his own soldiers, and for losing battles. This public image established him not only as a scapegoat for the South's military failures but also as the chief whipping boy of the Confederacy. The strongly negative opinions of Bragg's contemporaries have continued to color assessments of the general's military career and character by generations of historians. Rather than take these assessments at face value, Earl J. Hess's biography offers a much more balanced account of Bragg, the man and the officer. While Hess analyzes Bragg's many campaigns and battles, he also emphasizes how his contemporaries viewed his successes and failures and how these reactions affected Bragg both personally and professionally. The testimony and opinions of other members of the Confederate army--including Bragg's superiors, his fellow generals, and his subordinates--reveal how the general became a symbol for the larger military failures that undid the Confederacy. By connecting the general's personal life to his military career, Hess positions Bragg as a figure saddled with unwarranted infamy and humanizes him as a flawed yet misunderstood figure in Civil War history.
Darius Hubert (1823-1893), a French-born Jesuit, made his home in Louisiana in the 1840s and served churches and schools in Grand Coteau, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. In 1861, he pronounced a blessing at the Louisiana Secession Convention and became the first chaplain of any denomination appointed to Confederate service. Hubert served with the First Louisiana Infantry in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia for the entirety of the war, afterward returning to New Orleans, where he continued his ministry among veterans as a trusted pastor and comrade. One of just three full-time Catholic chaplains in Lee's army, only Hubert returned permanently to the South after surrender. In postwar New Orleans, he was unanimously elected chaplain of the veterans of the eastern campaign and became well-known for his eloquent public prayers at memorial events, funerals of prominent figures such as Jefferson Davis, and dedications of Confederate monuments. In this first-ever biography of Hubert, Katherine Bentley Jeffrey offers a far-reaching account of his extraordinary life. Born in revolutionary France, Hubert entered the Society of Jesus as a young man and left his homeland with fellow Jesuits to join the New Orleans mission. In antebellum Louisiana, he interacted with slaves and free people of color, felt the effects of anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit propaganda, experienced disputes and dysfunction with the trustees of his Baton Rouge church, and survived a near-fatal encounter with Know-Nothing vigilantism. As a chaplain with the Army of Northern Virginia, Hubert witnessed harrowing battles and their equally traumatic aftermath in surgeons' tents and hospitals. After the war, he was a spiritual director, friend, mentor, and intermediary in the fractious and politically divided Crescent City, where he both honored Confederate memory and promoted reconciliation and social harmony. Hubert's complicated and tumultuous life is notable both for its connection to the most compelling events of the era and its illumination of the complex and unexpected ways religion intersected with politics, war, and war's repercussions.
Most mid-nineteenth-century Americans regarded the United States as an exceptional democratic republic that stood apart from a world seemingly riddled with revolutionary turmoil and aristocratic consolidation. Viewing themselves as distinct from and even superior to other societies, Americans considered their nation an unprecedented experiment in political moderation and constitutional democracy. But as abolitionism in England, economic unrest in Europe, and upheaval in the Caribbean and Latin America began to influence domestic affairs, the foundational ideas of national identity also faced new questions. And with the outbreak of civil war, as two rival governments each claimed the mantle of civilized democracy, the United States' claim to unique standing in the community of nations dissolved into crisis. Could the Union chart a distinct course in human affairs when slaveholders, abolitionists, free people of color, and enslaved African Americans all possessed irreconcilable definitions of nationhood? In this sweeping history of political ideas, Andrew F. Lang reappraises the Civil War era as a crisis of American exceptionalism. Through this lens, Lang shows how the intellectual, political, and social ramifications of the war and its meaning rippled through the decades that followed, not only for the nation's own people but also in the ways the nation sought to redefine its place on the world stage.
For a half century, John Ellis Wool (1784-1869) was one of America's most illustrious figures - most notably as an officer in the United States Army during the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. At the onset of the Civil War, when he assumed command of the Department of the East, Wool had been a brigadier general for twenty years and, at age seventy-seven, was the oldest general on either side of the conflict. Courage Above All Things marks the first full biography of Wool, who aside from his unparalleled military service, figured prominently in many critical moments in nineteenth-century U.S. history. At the time of his death in 2016, Harwood Hinton, a scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of western history, had devoted fifty years to this monumental work, which has been completed and edited by the distinguished historian Jerry Thompson. This deeply researched and deftly written volume incorporates the latest scholarship to offer a clear and detailed account of John Ellis Wool's extraordinary life - his character, his life experiences, and his career, in wartime and during uneasy periods of relative peace. Hinton and Thompson provide a thorough account of all chapters in Wool's life, including three major wars, the Cherokee Removal, and battles with Native Americans on the West Coast. From his distinguished participation in the War of 1812 to his controversial service on the Pacific coast during the 1850s, and from his mixed success during the Peninsula Campaign to his overseeing of efforts to quell the New York City draft riots of 1863, John Ellis Wool emerges here as a crucial character in the story of nineteenth-century America - complex, contradictory, larger than life - finally fully realized for the first time.
Civil War Supply and Strategy stands as a sweeping examination of the decisive link between the distribution of provisions to soldiers and the strategic movement of armies during the Civil War. Award-winning historian Earl J. Hess reveals how that dynamic served as the key to success, especially for the Union army as it undertook bold offensives striking far behind Confederate lines. How generals and their subordinates organized military resources to provide food for both men and animals under their command, he argues, proved essential to Union victory. The Union army developed a powerful logistical capability that enabled it to penetrate deep into Confederate territory and exert control over select regions of the South. Logistics and supply empowered Union offensive strategy but limited it as well; heavily dependent on supply lines, road systems, preexisting railroad lines, and natural waterways, Union strategy worked far better in the more developed Upper South. Union commanders encountered unique problems in the Deep South, where needed infrastructure was more scarce. While the Mississippi River allowed Northern armies to access the region along a narrow corridor and capture key cities and towns along its banks, the dearth of rail lines nearly stymied William T. Sherman's advance to Atlanta. In other parts of the Deep South, the Union army relied on massive strategic raids to destroy resources and propel its military might into the heart of the Confederacy. As Hess's study shows, from the perspective of maintaining food supply and moving armies, there existed two main theaters of operation, north and south, that proved just as important as the three conventional eastern, western, and Trans-Mississippi theaters. Indeed, the conflict in the Upper South proved so different from that in the Deep South that the ability of Federal officials to negotiate the logistical complications associated with army mobility played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the war.
In Lee's Tigers Revisited, noted Civil War scholar Terry L. Jones dramatically expands and revises his acclaimed history of the approximately twelve thousand Louisiana infantrymen who fought in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Sometimes derided as the ""wharf rats from New Orleans"" and the ""lowest scrappings of the Mississippi,"" the Louisiana Tigers earned a reputation for being drunken and riotous in camp, but courageous and dependable on the battlefield. Louisiana's soldiers, some of whom wore colorful uniforms in the style of French Zouaves, reflected the state's multicultural society, with regiments consisting of French-speaking Creoles and European immigrants. Units made pivotal contributions to many crucial battles- resisting the initial Union onslaught at First Manassas, facilitating Stonewall Jackson's famous Valley Campaign, holding the line at Second Manassas by throwing rocks when they ran out of ammunition, breaking the Union line temporarily at Gettysburg's Cemetery Hill, containing the Union breakthrough at Spotsylvania's Bloody Angle, and leading Lee's attempted breakout of Petersburg at Fort Stedman. The Tigers achieved equal notoriety for their outrageous behavior off the battlefield, so much so that sources suggest no general wanted them in his command. By the time of Lee's surrender at Appomattox, there were fewer than four hundred Louisiana Tigers still among his troops. Lee's Tigers Revisited uses letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles, and muster rolls to provide a detailed account of the origins, enrollments, casualties, and desertion rates of these soldiers. Illustrations- including several maps newly commissioned for this edition- chart the Tigers' positions on key battlefields in the tumultuous campaigns throughout Virginia. By utilizing first-person accounts and official records, Jones provides the definitive study of the Louisiana Tigers and their harrowing experiences in the Civil War.
Traditional histories of the Civil War describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Kenneth W. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the conflagration with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. He further contends that events such as floods and droughts affecting the Confederate home front constricted soldiers' food supply, lowered morale, and undercut the government's efforts to boost nationalist sentiment. By contrast, the superior equipment and open supply lines enjoyed by Union soldiers enabled them to cope successfully with the South's extreme conditions and, ultimately, secure victory in 1865. Climate conditions during the war proved unusual, as irregular phenomena such as El Nino, La Nina, and similar oscillations in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns across southern states. Taking into account these meteorological events, Noerethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses, compelling historians to reconsider long-held conclusions about the war. Unlike past studies that fault inflation, taxation, and logistical problems for the Confederate defeat, his work considers how soldiers and civilians dealt with floods and droughts that beset areas of the South in 1862, 1863, and 1864. In doing so, he addresses the foundational causes that forced Richmond to make difficult and sometimes disastrous decisions when prioritizing the feeding of the home front or the front lines. The Howling Storm stands as the first comprehensive examination of weather and climate during the Civil War. Its approach, coverage, and conclusions are certain to reshape the field of Civil War studies.
The last days of fighting in the Civil War's eastern theater have been wrapped in mythology since the moment of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House. War veterans and generations of historians alike have focused on the seemingly inevitable defeat of the Confederacy after Lee's flight from Petersburg and recalled the generous surrender terms set forth by Grant, thought to facilitate peace and to establish the groundwork for sectional reconciliation. But this volume of essays by leading scholars of the Civil War era offers a fresh and nuanced view of the eastern war's closing chapter. Assessing events from the siege of Petersburg to the immediate aftermath of Lee's surrender, Petersburg to Appomattox blends military, social, cultural, and political history to reassess the ways in which the war ended and examines anew the meanings attached to one of the Civil War's most significant sites, Appomattox. Contributors are Peter S. Carmichael, William W. Bergen, Susannah J. Ural, Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh, William C. Davis, Keith Bohannon, Caroline E. Janney, Stephen Cushman, and Elizabeth Varon.
Confederate monuments figure prominently as epicenters of social conflict. These stone and metal constructs resonate with the tensions of modern America, giving concrete definition to the ideologies that divide us. Confederate monuments alone did not generate these feelings of aggravation, but they are far from innocent. Rather than serving as neutral objects of public remembrance, Confederate monuments articulate a narration of the past that forms the basis for a normative vision of the future. The story, told through the character of a religious mythos, carries implicit sacred convictions; thus, these spires and statues are inherently theological . In Cut in Stone , Ryan Andrew Newson contends that we cannot fully understand or disrupt these statues without attending to the convictions that give them their power. With a careful overview of the historical contexts in which most Confederate monuments were constructed, Newson demonstrates that these "memorials" were part of a revisionary project intended to resist the social changes brought on by Reconstruction while maintaining a romanticized Southern identity. Confederate monuments thus reinforce a theology concerning the nature of sacrifice and the ultimacy of whiteness. Moreover, this underlying theology serves to conceal inherited collective wounds in the present. If Confederate monuments are theologically weighted in their allure, then it stands to reason that they must also be contested at this levelaprecisely as sacred symbols. Newson responds to these inherently theological objects with suggestions for action that are sensitive to the varying contexts within which monuments reside, showing that while all Confederate monuments must come under scrutiny, some monuments should remain standing, but in redefined contexts. Cut in Stone represents the first detailed theological investigation of Confederate monuments, a resource for the larger collective task of determining how to memorialize problematic pasts and how to shape public space amidst contested memory.
Recruited as sharpshooters and clothed in distinctive uniforms with green trim, the hand-picked regiment of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry was renowned and admired far and wide. The only New Jersey regiment to reenlist for the duration of the Civil War at the close of its initial three-year term, the Ninth saw action in forty-two battles and engagements across three states. Throughout the South, the regiment broke up enemy camps and supply depots, burned bridges, and destroyed railroad tracks to thwart Confederate movements and suffered disease and starvation as POWs at the notorious Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. Recruited largely from socially conservative cities and villages in northern and central New Jersey, the Ninth Volunteer Infantry consisted of men with widely differing opinions about the Union and their enemy. Edward G. Longacre unearths these complicated political and social views, tracing the history of this esteemed regiment before, during, and after the war-from recruitment at Camp Olden to final operations in North Carolina.
Colonel Frank Wolford, the acclaimed Civil War colonel of the First Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, is remembered today primarily for his unenviable reputation. Despite his stellar service record and widespread fame, Wolford ruined his reputation and his career over the question of emancipation and the enlistment of African Americans in the army. Unhappy with Abraham Lincoln's public stance on slavery, Wolford rebelled and made a series of treasonous speeches against the president. Dishonorably discharged and arrested three times, Wolford, on the brink of being exiled beyond federal lines into the Confederacy, was taken in irons to Washington DC to meet with Lincoln. Lincoln spared Wolford, however, and the disgraced colonel returned to Kentucky, where he was admired for his war record and rewarded politically for his racially based rebellion against Lincoln. Although his military record established him as one of the most vigorous, courageous, and original commanders in the cavalry, Wolford's later reputation suffered. Dan Lee restores balance to the story of a crude, complicated, but talented man and the unconventional regiment he led in the fight to save the Union. Placing Wolford in the context of the political and cultural crosscurrents that tore at Kentucky during the war, Lee fills out the historical picture of Old Roman Nose.
During six months in 1862, William Jefferson Whatley and his wife, Nancy Falkaday Watkins Whatley, exchanged a series of letters that vividly demonstrate the quickly changing roles of women whose husbands left home to fight in the Civil War. When William Whatley enlisted with the Confederate Army in 1862, he left his young wife Nancy in charge of their cotton farm in East Texas, near the village of Caledonia in Rusk County. In letters to her husband, Nancy describes in elaborate detail how she dealt with and felt about her new role, which thrust her into an array of unfamiliar duties, including dealing with increasingly unruly slaves, overseeing the harvest of the cotton crop, and negotiating business transactions with unscrupulous neighbors. At the same time, she carried on her traditional family duties and tended to their four young children during frequent epidemics of measles and diphtheria. Stationed hundreds of miles away, her husband could only offer her advice, sympathy, and shared frustration. In An East Texas Family's Civil War, the Whatleys' great-grandson, John T. Whatley, transcribes and annotates these letters for the first time. Notable for their descriptions of the unraveling of the local slave labor system and accounts of rural southern life, Nancy's letters offer a rare window on the hardships faced by women on the home front taking on unprecedented responsibilities and filling unfamiliar roles.
For decades, military historians have argued that the introduction of the rifle musket-with a range five times longer than that of the smoothbore musket-made the shoulder-to-shoulder formations of linear tactics obsolete. Author Earl J. Hess challenges this deeply entrenched assumption. He contends that long-range rifle fire did not dominate Civil War battlefields or dramatically alter the course of the conflict because soldiers had neither the training nor the desire to take advantage of the musket rifle's increased range. Drawing on the drill manuals available to officers and a close reading of battle reports, Civil War Infantry Tactics demonstrates that linear tactics provided the best formations and maneuvers to use with the single-shot musket, whether rifle or smoothbore. The linear system was far from an outdated relic that led to higher casualties and prolonged the war. Indeed, regimental officers on both sides of the conflict found the formations and maneuvers in use since the era of the French Revolution to be indispensable to the survival of their units on the battlefield. The training soldiers received in this system, combined with their extensive experience in combat, allowed small units a high level of articulation and effectiveness. Unlike much military history that focuses on grand strategies, Hess zeroes in on formations and maneuvers (or primary tactics), describing their purpose and usefulness in regimental case studies, and pinpointing which of them were favorites of unit commanders in the field. The Civil War was the last conflict in North America to see widespread use of the linear tactical system, and Hess convincingly argues that the war also saw the most effective tactical performance yet in America's short history.
The New Deal era witnessed a surprising surge in popular engagement with the history and memory of the Civil War era. From the omnipresent book and film Gone with the Wind and the scores of popular theater productions to Aaron Copeland's ""A Lincoln Portrait,"" it was hard to miss America's fascination with the war in the 1930s and 1940s. Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime. At the heart of this book is an examination of how historical memory offers people a means of understanding and defining themselves in the present. Silber reveals how, during a moment of enormous national turmoil, the events and personages of the Civil War provided a framework for reassessing national identity, class conflict, and racial and ethnic division. The New Deal era may have been the first time Civil War memory loomed so large for the nation as a whole, but, as the present moment suggests, it was hardly the last.
In August 1862, nineteen-year-old Edward G. Granger joined the 5th Michigan Cavalry Regiment as a second lieutenant. On August 20, 1863, the newly promoted Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer appointed Granger as one of his aides, a position Granger would hold until his death in August 1864. Many of the forty-four letters the young lieutenant wrote home during those two years, introduced and annotated here by leading Custer scholar Sandy Barnard, provide a unique look into the words and actions of his legendary commander. At the same time, Granger's correspondence offers an intimate picture of life on the picket lines of the Army of the Potomac and a staff officer's experiences in the field. As Custer's aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Granger was in an ideal position to record the inner workings of the Michigan Brigade's command echelon. Riding at Custer's side, he could closely observe one of America's most celebrated and controversial military figures during the very days that cemented his fame. With a keen eye and occasional humor, Granger describes the brigade's operations, including numerous battles and skirmishes. His letters also show the evolution of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps from the laughingstock of the Eastern Theater to an increasingly potent, well-led force. By the time of Granger's death at the Battle of Crooked Run, he and his comrades were on the verge of wresting mounted supremacy from their Confederate opponents. Amply illustrated with maps and photographs, An Aide to Custer gives readers an unprecedented view of the Civil War and one of its most important commanders, and unusual insight into the experience of a staff officer who served alongside him.
Since 1982, the renowned Civil War historian James I. "Bud" Robertson's "Civil War Sites in Virginia: A Tour Guide" has enlightened and informed Civil War enthusiasts and scholars alike. The book expertly explores the commonwealth's Civil War sites for those hoping to gain greater insight and understanding of the conflict. But in the years since the book's original publication, accessibility to many sites and the interpretive material available have improved dramatically. In addition, new historical markers have been erected, and new historically significant sites have been developed, while other sites have been lost to modern development or other encroachments. The historian Brian Steel Wills offers here a revised and updated edition that retains the core of the original guide, with its rich and insightful prose, but that takes these major changes into account, introducing especially the benefits of expanded interpretation and of improved accessibility. The guide incorporates new information on the lives of a broad spectrum of soldiers and citizens while revisiting scenes associated with the era's most famous personalities. New maps and a list of specialized tour suggestions assist in planning visits to sites, while three dozen illustrations, from nineteenth-century drawings to modern photographs, bring the war and its impact on the Old Dominion vividly to life. With the sesquicentennial remembrances of the American Civil War heightening interest and spurring improvements, there may be no better time to learn about and visit these important and moving sites than now.
One of the most effective units to fight on either side of the Civil War, the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia served under Robert E. Lee from the Seven Days Battles in 1862 to the surrender at Appomattox in 1865. In Hood's Texas Brigade, Susannah J. Ural presents a nontraditional unit history that traces the experiences of these soldiers and their families to gauge the war's effect on them and to understand their role in the white South's struggle for independence. According to Ural, several factors contributed to the Texas Brigade's extraordinary success: the unit's strong self-identity as Confederates; the mutual respect among the junior officers and their men; a constant desire to maintain their reputation not just as Texans but as the top soldiers in Robert E. Lee's army; and the fact that their families matched the men's determination to fight and win. Using the letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper accounts, official reports, and military records of nearly 600 brigade members, Ural argues that the average Texas Brigade volunteer possessed an unusually strong devotion to southern independence: whereas most Texans and Arkansans fought in the West or Trans- Mississippi West, members of the Texas Brigade volunteered for a unit that moved them over a thousand miles from home, believing that they would exert the greatest influence on the war's outcome by fighting near the Confederate capital in Richmond. These volunteers also took pride in their place in, or connections to, the slave-holding class that they hoped would secure their financial futures. While Confederate ranks declined from desertion and fractured morale in the last years of the war, this belief in a better life, albeit one built through slave labor, kept the Texas Brigade more intact than other units. Hood's Texas Brigade challenges key historical arguments about soldier motivation, volunteerism and desertion, home-front morale, and veterans' postwar adjustment. It provides an intimate picture of one of the war's most effective brigades and sheds new light on the rationales that kept Confederate soldiers fighting throughout the most deadly conflict in U.S. history.
The Dooleys of Richmond is the biography of a dynamic and philanthropic Irish Catholic immigrant family who came to Virginia in the nineteenth century. While most Irish Catholic immigrants of the period were poor and illiterate, John and Sarah Dooley possessed both sophistication and capital. He established a large hat manufacturing enterprise and became a leader in business, education, and politics in Virginia. Mary Lynn Bayliss recounts the family's fortunes during their prosperous antebellum years, John and his sons' service in the Confederate army, John's exploits as leader of the Richmond Ambulance Committee, and the loss of the entire Dooley retail and manufacturing operations during the final days of the Civil War. The Dooleys' son James, a leading Richmond lawyer and philanthropist, devoted half a century to developing railroad networks across the United States and became a key figure in the industrialization of the New South. He and his wife, Sallie, built Maymont, the famed Gilded Age estate that remains a major attraction of Richmond. The story of the Dooleys is a fascinating window on southern society and the people who shaped its grand and turbulent history.
In the tradition of Ezra J. Warner's magisterial Generals in Gray, military historian Dan C. Fullerton supplies an indispensable reference work on Confederate forces over the entire course of the Civil War. Armies in Gray details the development and organization of the southern armies, their evolution over the course of the conflict, their command structure, and their geographic assignment and placement. Developed through a decade-long analysis of an array of primary-source materials, Armies in Gray provides an entirely new understanding of the operations and strategies of the Civil War by examining how the Confederate War Department and field commanders used their fighting forces. Unlike typical battle histories, which analyze the events of a single action at a single point in time or offer only a brief overview of the fighting forces' overall organization, Armies in Gray focuses on the structure of the Confederate ranks as a whole. Fullerton's meticulous examination of the Confederate Army allows readers to assess how well military leaders utilized their troops to achieve their tactical goals as they waged battles against the armies of the North. Divided into three-month quarters over the duration of the war, this reference guide details the origins of all Confederate brigades, divisions, corps, districts, and departments. It also reports on ordered changes to these units, providing details on the evolution of Confederate forces and on how commanders deployed them through the entirety of the war. By looking at the organization of the Confederate armies in each quarter, readers can gain a clearer picture of the forces available to southern military leaders as they developed their plans at every stage of the Civil War. Armies in Gray fills a void in Civil War studies, providing an accurate picture of the development of the Confederate armies, how commanders wielded them, and ultimately, how they were defeated by the Union Army as the nation's bloodiest conflict drew to a close.
The decision of the eventual Confederate states to secede from the Union set in motion perhaps the most dramatic chapter in American history, and one that has typically been told on a grand scale. In Daydreams and Nightmares, however, historian Brent Tarter shares the story of one Virginia family who found themselves in the middle of the secession debate and saw their world torn apart as the states chose sides and went to war. George Berlin was elected to serve as a delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1861 as an opponent of secession, but he ultimately changed his vote. Later, when defending his decision in a speech in his hometown of Buckhannon, Upshur County, he had to flee for his safety as Union soldiers arrived. Berlin and his wife, Susan Holt Berlin, were separated for extended periods--both during the convention and, later, during the early years of the Civil War. The letters they exchanged tell a harrowing story of uncertainty and bring to life for the modern reader an extended family that encompassed both Confederate and Union sympathizers. This is in part a love story. It is also a story about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. Although unique in its vividly evoked details, the Berlins' story is representative of the drama endured by millions of Americans. Composed during the nightmare of civil war, the Berlins' remarkably articulate letters express the dreams of reunion and a secure future felt throughout the entire, severed nation. In this intimate, evocative, and often heartbreaking family story, we see up close the personal costs of our larger national history.
In Stepdaughters of History, noted scholar Catherine Clinton reflects on the roles of women as historical actors within the field of Civil War studies and examines the ways in which historians have redefined female wartime participation. Clinton contends that despite the recent attention, white and black women's contributions remain shrouded in myth and sidelined in traditional historical narratives. Her work tackles some of these well-worn assumptions, dismantling prevailing attitudes that consign women to the footnotes of Civil War texts. Clinton highlights some of the debates, led by emerging and established Civil War scholars, which seek to demolish demeaning and limiting stereotypes of southern women as simpering belles, stoic Mammies, Rebel spitfires, or sultry spies. Such caricatures mask the more concrete and compelling struggles within the Confederacy, and in Clinton's telling, a far more balanced and vivid understanding of women's roles within the wartime South emerges. New historical evidence has given rise to fresh insights, including important revisionist literature on women's overt and covert participation in activities designed to challenge the rebellion and on white women's roles in reshaping the war's legacy in postwar narratives. Increasingly, Civil War scholarship integrates those women who defied gender conventions to assume men's roles, including those few who gained notoriety as spies, scouts, or soldiers during the war. As Clinton's work demonstrates, the larger questions of women's wartime contributions remain important correctives to our understanding of the war's impact. Through a fuller appreciation of the dynamics of sex and race, Stepdaughters of History promises a broader conversation in the twenty-first century, inviting readers to continue to confront the conundrums of the American Civil War.
During the Civil War, southerners produced a vast body of writing about their northern foes, painting a picture of a money-grubbing, puritanical, and infidel enemy. Damn Yankees! explores the proliferation of this rhetoric and demonstrates how the perpetual vilification of northerners became a weapon during the war, fostering hatred and resistance among the people of the Confederacy. Drawing from speeches, cartoons, editorials, letters, and diaries, Damn Yankees! examines common themes in southern excoriation of the enemy. In sharp contrast to the presumed southern ideals of chivalry and honor, Confederates claimed that Yankees were rootless vagabonds who placed profit ahead of fidelity to religious and social traditions. Pervasive criticism of northerners created a framework for understanding their behavior during the war. When the Confederacy prevailed on the field of battle, it confirmed the Yankees' reputed physical and moral weakness. When the Yankees achieved military success, reports of depravity against vanquished foes abounded, stiffening the resolve of Confederate soldiers and civilians alike to protect their homeland and the sanctity of their women from Union degeneracy. From award-winning Civil War historian George C. Rable, Damn Yankees! is the first comprehensive study of anti-Union speech and writing, the ways these words shaped perceptions of and events in the war, and the rhetoric's enduring legacy in the South after the conflict had ended.
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