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Bleeding Borders

Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas

Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel

In Bleeding Borders, Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel offers a fresh, multifaceted interpretation of the quintessential sectional conflict in pre–Civil War Kansas. Instead of focusing on the white, male politicians and settlers who vied for control of the Kansas territorial legislature, Oertel explores the crucial roles Native Americans, African Americans, and white women played in the literal and rhetorical battle between proslavery and antislavery settlers in the region. She brings attention to the local debates and the diverse peoples who participated in them during that contentious period. Oertel begins by detailing the settlement of eastern Kansas by emigrant Indian tribes and explores their interaction with the growing number of white settlers in the region. She analyzes the attempts by southerners to plant slavery in Kansas and the ultimately successful resistance of slaves and abolitionists. Oertel then considers how crude frontier living conditions, Indian conflict, political upheaval, and sectional violence reshaped traditional Victorian gender roles in Kansas and explores women’s participation in the political and physical conflicts between proslavery and antislavery settlers. Oertel goes on to examine northern and southern definitions of “true manhood” and how competing ideas of masculinity infused political and sectional tensions. She concludes with an analysis of miscegenation—not only how racial mixing between Indians, slaves, and whites influenced events in territorial Kansas, but more importantly, how the fear of miscegenation fueled both proslavery and antislavery arguments about the need for civil war. As Oertel demonstrates, the players in Bleeding Kansas used weapons other than their Sharpes rifles and Bowie knives to wage war over the extension of slavery: they attacked each other’s cultural values and struggled to assert their own political wills. They jealously guarded ideals of manhood, womanhood, and whiteness even as the presence of Indians and blacks and the debate over slavery raised serious questions about the efficacy of these principles. Oertel argues that, ultimately, many Native Americans, blacks, and women shaped the political and cultural terrain in ways that ensured the destruction of slavery, but they, along with their white male counterparts, failed to defeat the resilient power of white supremacy. Moving beyond a conventional political history of Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Borders breaks new ground by revealing how the struggles of this highly diverse region contributed to the national move toward disunion and how the ideologies that governed race and gender relations were challenged as North, South, and West converged on the border between slavery and freedom.

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Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri

Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri

Focuses on the violence that erupted—long before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter—along the Missouri-Kansas border. Blends political, military, social, and intellectual history to explain why the divisiveness was so bitter and persisted so long, still influencing attitudes 150 years later.

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Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands

Civil War on Florida'S Gulf Coast, 1861-1865

Chronicles the role of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron as an important Federal contingent in Florida.

"[Buker] argues that the presence of Union sailors and their extensive contacts ashore did serious damage to home-front morale and retarded Florida's value as a component of the rebel war machine. Since the state's long coastlines made it a ready target for a naval cordon, its commercial life suffered beginning in 1861 and deteriorated even further as the war progressed despite the efforts of blockade runners. Florida Unionists, antiwar natives, and runaway slaves flocked to these Federal warships to seek protection and quickly became a source of manpower for their crews as well as for land forces."

Journal of Southern History

"The proliferation of publications concerning the American Civil War occasionally produces one that really contributes to our understanding of that conflict. George E. Buker’s Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands is such a book."

Journal of American History


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Blood Image

Turner Ashby in the Civil War and the Southern Mind

With Blood Image, Paul Anderson shows that the symbol of a man can be just as important as the man himself. Turner Ashby was one of the most famous fighting men of the Civil War. Rising to colonel of the 7th Virginia Cavalry, Ashby fought brilliantly under Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign until he died in battle. Anderson demonstrates that Ashby's image—a catalytic, mesmerizing, and often contradictory combination of southern antebellum cultural ideals and wartime hopes and fears—emerged during his own lifetime and was not a later creation of the Lost Cause. The stylistic synergy of Anderson's startling narrative design fuels a poignant irony: men like Ashby—a chivalrous, charismatic "knight" who had difficulty complying with Stonewall Jackson's authority—become trapped by the desire to have their real lives reflect their imagined ones.

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Blood on the Moon

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Edward Steers

Winner of the 2001 The Lincoln Group of New York's Award of Achievement A History Book Club Selection The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is usually told as a tale of a lone deranged actor who struck from a twisted lust for revenge. This is not only too simple an explanation; Blood on the Moon reveals that it is completely wrong. John Wilkes Booth was neither mad nor alone in his act of murder. He received the help of many, not the least of whom was Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd, the Charles County physician who has been portrayed as the innocent victim of a vengeful government. Booth was also aided by the Confederate leadership in Richmond. As he made his plans to strike at Lincoln, Booth was in contact with key members of the Confederate underground, and after the assassination these same forces used all of their resources to attempt his escape. Noted Lincoln authority Edward Steers Jr. introduces the cast of characters in this ill-fated drama, he explores why they were so willing to help pull the trigger, and corrects the many misconceptions surrounding this defining moment that changed American history. After completing an acclaimed career as a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, Edward Steers Jr. has turned his research skills to the Lincoln assassination. He is the author of several books about the president, including The Trial. He lives in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

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Bloody Valverde

A Civil War Battle on the Rio Grande, February 21, 1862

John Taylor

When Jefferson Davis commissioned Henry H. Sibley a brigadier general in the Confederate army in the summer of 1861, he gave him a daring mission: to capture the gold fields of Colorado and California for the South. Their grand scheme, premised on crushing the Union forces in New Mexico and then moving unimpeded north and west, began to unravel along the sandy banks of the Rio Grande late in the winter of 1862. At Valverde ford, in a day-long battle between about 2,600 Texan Confederates and some 3,800 Union troops stationed at Fort Craig, the Confederates barely prevailed. However, the cost exacted in men and matériel doomed them as they moved into northern New Mexico.

Carefully reconstructed in this book is the first full account of what happened on both sides of the line before, during, and after the battle. On the Confederate side, a drunken Sibley turned over command to Colonel Tom Green early in the afternoon. Battlefield maneuvers included a disastrous lancer charge by cavalry--the only one during the entire Civil War. The Union army, under the cautious Colonel Edward R. S. Canby, fielded a superior number of troops, the majority of whom were Hispanic New Mexican volunteers.

"The definitive study of the Battle of Valverde."--Jerry Thompson, author of Henry Hopkins Sibley

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Blue and Gray Diplomacy

A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

Howard Jones

In an examination of Union and Confederate foreign relations during the Civil War from both European and American perspectives, Jones explores a number of themes, including the international economic and political dimensions of the war, the North’s attempts to block the South from winning foreign recognition as a nation, Napoleon III's meddling in the war and his attempt to restore French power in the New World, and the inability of Europeans to understand the interrelated nature of slavery and union. Most of all, Jones explores the horrible nature of a war that attracted outside involvement as much as it repelled it.

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Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune

The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

Robert Gould Shaw

On the Boston Common stands one of the great Civil War memorials, a magnificent bronze sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It depicts the black soldiers of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry marching alongside their young white commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. When the philosopher William James dedicated the memorial in May 1897, he stirred the assembled crowd with these words: "There they march, warm-blooded champions of a better day for man. There on horseback among them, in the very habit as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune."

In this book Shaw speaks for himself with equal eloquence through nearly two hundred letters he wrote to his family and friends during the Civil War. The portrait that emerges is of a man more divided and complex--though no less heroic--than the Shaw depicted in the celebrated film Glory. The pampered son of wealthy Boston abolitionists, Shaw was no abolitionist himself, but he was among the first patriots to respond to Lincoln's call for troops after the attack on Fort Sumter. After Cedar Mountain and Antietam, Shaw knew the carnage of war firsthand. Describing nightfall on the Antietam battlefield, he wrote, "the crickets chirped, and the frogs croaked, just as if nothing unusual had happened all day long, and presently the stars came out bright, and we lay down among the dead, and slept soundly until daylight. There were twenty dead bodies within a rod of me."

When Federal war aims shifted from an emphasis on restoring the Union to the higher goal of emancipation for four million slaves, Shaw's mother pressured her son into accepting the command of the North's vanguard black regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. A paternalist who never fully reconciled his own prejudices about black inferiority, Shaw assumed the command with great reluctance. Yet, as he trained his recruits in Readville, Massachusetts, during the early months of 1963, he came to respect their pluck and dedication. "There is not the least doubt," he wrote his mother, "that we shall leave the state, with as good a regiment, as any that has marched."

Despite such expressions of confidence, Shaw in fact continued to worry about how well his troops would perform under fire. The ultimate test came in South Carolina in July 1863, when the Fifty-fourth led a brave but ill-fated charge on Fort Wagner, at the approach to Charleston Harbor. As Shaw waved his sword and urged his men forward, an enemy bullet felled him on the fort's parapet. A few hours later the Confederates dumped his body into a mass grave with the bodies of twenty of his men. Although the assault was a failure from a military standpoint, it proved the proposition to which Shaw had reluctantly dedicated himself when he took command of the Fifty-fourth: that black soldiers could indeed be fighting men. By year's end, sixty new black regiments were being organized.

A previous selection of Shaw's correspondence was privately published by his family in 1864. For this volume, Russell Duncan has restored many passages omitted from the earlier edition and has provided detailed explanatory notes to the letters. In addition he has written a lengthy biographical essay that places the young colonel and his regiment in historical context.

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Blue Smoke

The Recorded Journey of Big Bill Broonzy

Mark H. Dunkelman

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Blue, the Gray, and the Green

Toward an Environmental History of the Civil War

Edited by Brian Allen Drake

The Blue, the Gray, and the Green is one of only a handful of books to apply an environmental history approach to the Civil War. This book explores how nature—disease, climate, flora and fauna, and other factors—affected the war and also how the war shaped Americans’ perceptions, understanding, and use of nature. The contributors use a wide range of approaches that serve as a valuable template for future environmental histories of the conflict. In his introduction, Brian Allen Drake describes the sparse body of environmental history literature related to the Civil War and lays out a blueprint for the theoretical basis of each essay. Kenneth W. Noe emphasizes climate and its effects on agricultural output and the battlefield; Timothy Silver explores the role of disease among troops and animals; Megan Kate Nelson examines aridity and Union defeat in 1861 New Mexico; Kathryn Shively Meier investigates soldiers’ responses to disease in the Peninsula Campaign; Aaron Sachs, John C. Inscoe, and Lisa M. Brady examine philosophical and ideological perspectives on nature before, during, and after the war; Drew Swanson discusses the war’s role in production and landscape change in piedmont tobacco country; Mart A. Stewart muses on the importance of environmental knowledge and experience for soldiers, civilians, and slaves; Timothy Johnson elucidates the ecological underpinnings of debt peonage during Reconstruction; finally, Paul S. Sutter speculates on the future of Civil War environmental studies. The Blue, the Gray, and the Green provides a provocative environmental commentary that enriches our understanding of the Civil War.

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