Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

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Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

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Civil War Senator

William Pitt Fessenden and the Fight to Save the American Republic

Robert J. Cook

One of the most talented and influential American politicians of the nineteenth century, William Pitt Fessenden (1806–1869) helped devise Union grand strategy during the Civil War. A native of Maine and son of a fiery New England abolitionist, he served in the United States Senate as a member of the Whig Party during the Kansas-Nebraska crisis and played a formative role in the development of the Republican Party. In this richly textured and fast-paced biography, Robert J. Cook charts Fessenden’s rise to power and probes the potent mix of political ambition and republican ideology which impelled him to seek a place in the U.S. Senate at a time of rising tension between North and South. A determined and self-disciplined man who fought, not always successfully, to keep his passions in check, Fessenden helped to spearhead Republican Party opposition to proslavery expansion during the strife-torn 1850s and led others to resist the cotton states’ efforts to secede peaceably after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. During the Civil War, he chaired the Senate Finance Committee and served as President Lincoln’s second head of the Treasury Department. In both positions, he fashioned and implemented wartime financial policy for the United States. In addition, Fessenden’s multifaceted relationship with Lincoln helped to foster effective working relations between the president and congressional Republicans. Cook outlines Fessenden’s many contributions to critical aspects of northern grand strategy and to the gradual shift to an effective total war policy against the Confederacy. Most notably, Cook shows, Fessenden helped craft congressional policy regarding the confiscation and emancipation of slaves. Cook also details Fessenden’s tenure as chairman of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction after the war, during which he authored that committee’s report. Although he sanctioned his party’s break with Andrew Johnson less than a year after the war’s end, Cook explains how Fessenden worked decisively to thwart attempts by Radical Republicans to revolutionize post-emancipation society in the defeated Confederacy. The first biography of Fessenden in over forty years, Civil War Senator reveals a significant but often sidelined historical figure and explains the central role played by party politics and partisanship in the coming of the Civil War, northern military victory, and the ultimate failure of postwar Reconstruction. Cook restores Fessenden to his place as one of the most important politicians of a troubled generation.

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The Civilian War

Confederate Women and Union Soldiers during Sherman's March

Lisa Tendrich Frank

The Civilian War explores home front encounters between elite Confederate women and Union soldiers during Sherman's March, a campaign that put women at the center of a Union army operation for the first time. Ordered to crush the morale as well as the military infrastructure of the Confederacy, Sherman and his army increasingly targeted wealthy civilians in their progress through Georgia and the Carolinas. To drive home the full extent of northern domination over the South, Sherman's soldiers besieged the female domain-going into bedrooms and parlors, seizing correspondence and personal treasures-with the aim of insulting and humiliating upper-class southern women. These efforts blurred the distinction between home front and warfront, creating confrontations in the domestic sphere as a part of the war itself.

Historian Lisa Tendrich Frank argues that ideas about women and their roles in war shaped the expectations of both Union soldiers and Confederate civilians. Sherman recognized that slaveholding Confederate women played a vital part in sustaining the Rebel efforts, and accordingly he treated them as wartime opponents, targeting their markers of respectability and privilege. Although Sherman intended his efforts to demoralize the civilian population, Frank suggests that his strategies frequently had the opposite effect. Confederate women accepted the plunder of food and munitions as an inevitable part of the conflict, but they considered Union invasion of their private spaces an unforgivable and unreasonable transgression. These intrusions strengthened the resolve of many southern women to continue the fight against the Union and its most despised general.

Seamlessly merging gender studies and military history, The Civilian War illuminates the distinction between the damage inflicted on the battlefield and the offenses that occurred in the domestic realm during the Civil War. Ultimately, Frank's research demonstrates why many women in the Lower South remained steadfastly committed to the Confederate cause even when their prospects seemed most dim.

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Confederate General William Dorsey Pender

The Hope of Glory

Brian Steel Wills

During the Civil War, North Carolinian William Dorsey Pender established himself as one of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's best young generals. He served in most of the significant engagements of the war in the eastern theater while under the command of Joseph E. Johnston at Seven Pines and Robert E. Lee from the Seven Days to Gettysburg. His most crucial contributions to Confederate success came at the battles of Second Manassas, Shepherdstown, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. After an effective first day at Gettysburg, Pender was struck by a shell and disabled, necessitating his return to Virginia for what he hoped would be only an extended convalescence. Although Pender initially survived the wound, he died soon thereafter due to complications from his injury.

In this thorough biography of Pender, noted Civil War historian Brian Steel Wills examines both the young general's military career and his domestic life. While Pender devoted himself to military service, he also embraced the Episcopal Church and was baptized before his command in the field. According to Wills, Pender had an insatiable quest for "glory" in both earthly and heavenly realms, and he delighted in his role as a husband and father. In Pender's voluminous correspondence with his wife, Fanny, he shared his beliefs and offered views and opinions on a vast array of subjects. In the end, Wills suggests that Pender's story captures both the idealistic promise and the despair of a war that cost the lives of many Americans and changed the nation forever.

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The Confederate Heartland

Military and Civilian Morale in the Western Confederacy

Bradley R. Clampitt

Bradley R. Clampitt’s The Confederate Heartland examines morale in the Civil War’s western theater—the region that witnessed the most consistent Union success and Confederate failure, and the battleground where many historians contend that the war was won and lost. Clampitt’s western focus provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of Confederates who routinely witnessed the defeat of their primary defenders, the Army of Tennessee. This book tracks morale through highs and lows related to events on and off the battlefield, and addresses the lingering questions of when and why western Confederates recognized and admitted defeat. Clampitt digs beneath the surface to illustrate the intimate connections between battlefield and home front, and demonstrates a persistent dedication to southern independence among residents of the Confederate heartland until that spirit was broken on the battlefields of Middle Tennessee in late 1864. The western Confederates examined in this study possessed a strong sense of collective identity that endured long past the point when defeat on the battlefield was all but certain. Ultimately, by authoring a sweeping vision of the Confederate heartland and by addressing questions related to morale, nationalism, and Confederate identity within a western context, Clampitt helps to fashion a more balanced historical landscape for Civil War studies.

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Confederate Outlaw

Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia

Brian D. McKnight

In the fall of 1865, the United States Army executed Confederate guerrilla Champ Ferguson for his role in murdering fifty-three loyal citizens of Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War. Long remembered as the most unforgiving and inglorious warrior of the Confederacy, Ferguson has often been dismissed by historians as a cold-blooded killer. In Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia, biographer Brian D. McKnight demonstrates how such a simple judgment ignores the complexity of this legendary character. In his analysis, McKnight maintains that Ferguson fought the war on personal terms and with an Old Testament mentality regarding the righteousness of his cause. He believed that friends were friends and enemies were enemies—no middle ground existed. As a result, he killed prewar comrades as well as longtime adversaries without regret, all the while knowing that he might one day face his own brother, who served as a Union scout. Ferguson’s continued popularity demonstrates that his bloody legend did not die on the gallows. Widespread rumors endured of his last-minute escape from justice, and over time, the borderland terrorist emerged as a folk hero for many southerners. Numerous authors resurrected and romanticized his story for popular audiences, and even Hollywood used Ferguson’s life to create the composite role played by Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales. McKnight’s study deftly separates the myths from reality and weaves a thoughtful, captivating, and accurate portrait of the Confederacy’s most celebrated guerrilla. An impeccably researched biography, Confederate Outlaw offers an abundance of insight into Ferguson’s wartime motivations, actions, and tactics, and also describes borderland loyalties, guerrilla operations, and military retribution. McKnight concludes that Ferguson, and other irregular warriors operating during the Civil War, saw the conflict as far more of a personal battle than a political one.

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Confederate Political Economy

Creating and Managing a Southern Corporatist Nation

Michael Brem Bonner

In Confederate Political Economy, Michael Bonner suggests that the Confederate nation was an expedient corporatist state -- a society that required all sectors of the economy to work for the national interest, as defined by a partnership of industrial leaders and a dominant government. As Bonner shows, the characteristics of the Confederate States' political economy included modern organizational methods that mirrored the economic landscape of other late nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century corporatist governments.

Southern leaders, Bonner argues, were slave-owning agricultural capitalists who sought a counterrevolution against northern liberal capitalism. During secession and as the war progressed, they built and reinforced Confederate nationalism through specific centralized government policies. Bolstered by the Confederate constitution, these policies evolved into a political culture that allowed for immense executive powers, facilitated an anti-party ideology, and subordinated individual rights. In addition, the South's lack of industrial capacity forced the Confederacy to pursue a curious manufacturing policy that used both private companies and national ownership to produce munitions. This symbiotic relationship was just one component of the Confederacy's expedient corporatist state: other wartime policies like conscription, the domestic passport system, and management of southern railroads also exhibited unmistakable corporatist characteristics. Bonner's probing research and new comparative analysis expand our understanding of the complex organization and relationships in Confederate political and economic culture during the Civil War.

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Corps Commanders in Blue

Union Major Generals in the Civil War

edited by Ethan S. Rafuse

The outcomes of campaigns in the Civil War often depended on top generals having the right corps commanders in the right place at the right time. Mutual trust and respect between generals and their corps commanders, though vital to military success, was all too rare: Corps commanders were often forced to exercise considerable discretion in the execution of orders from their generals, and bitter public arguments over commanders' performances in battle followed hard on the heels of many major engagements. Controversies that arose during the war around the decisions of corps and army commanders-such as Daniel Sickles's disregard of George Meade's orders at the Battle of Gettysburg-continue to provoke vigorous debate among students of the Civil War. Corps Commanders in Blue offers eight case studies that illuminate the critical roles the Union corps commanders played in shaping the war's course and outcome. The contributors examine, and in many cases challenge, widespread assumptions about these men while considering the array of internal and external forces that shaped their efforts on and off the battlefield. Providing insight into the military conduct of the Civil War, Corps Commanders in Blue fills a significant gap in the historiography of the war by offering compelling examinations of the challenges of corps command in particular campaigns, the men who exercised that command, and the array of factors that shaped their efforts, for good or for ill.

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Counterfeit Justice

The Judicial Odyssey of Texas Freedwoman Azeline Hearne

Dale Baum

For many of the forty years of her life as a slave, Azeline Hearne cohabitated with her wealthy, unmarried master, Samuel R. Hearne. She bore him four children, only one of whom survived past early childhood. When Sam died shortly after the Civil War ended, he publicly acknowledged his relationship with Azeline and bequeathed his entire estate to their twenty-year-old mulatto son, with the provision that he take care of his mother. When their son died early in 1868, Azeline inherited one of the most profitable cotton plantations in Texas and became one of the wealthiest ex-slaves in the former Confederacy. In Counterfeit Justice, Dale Baum traces Azeline’s remarkable story, detailing her ongoing legal battles to claim and maintain her legacy. As Baum shows, Azeline’s inheritance quickly made her a target for predatory whites determined to strip her of her land. A familiar figure at the Robertson County District Court from the late 1860s to the early 1880s, Azeline faced numerous lawsuits—including one filed against her by her own lawyer. Samuel Hearne’s family took steps to dispossess her, and other unscrupulous white men challenged the title to her plantation, using claims based on old Spanish land grants. Azeline’s prolonged and courageous defense of her rightful title brought her a certain notoriety: the first freedwoman to be a party to three separate civil lawsuits appealed all the way to the Texas Supreme Court and the first former slave in Robertson County indicted on criminal charges of perjury. Although repeatedly blocked and frustrated by the convolutions of the legal system, she evolved from a bewildered defendant to a determined plaintiff who, in one extraordinary lawsuit, came tantalizingly close to achieving revenge against those who defrauded her for over a decade. Due to gaps in the available historical record and the unreliability of secondary accounts based on local Reconstruction folklore, many of the details of Azeline’s story are lost to history. But Baum grounds his speculation about her life in recent scholarship on the Reconstruction era, and he puts his findings in context in the history of Robertson County. Although history has not credited Azeline Hearne with influencing the course of the law, the story of her uniquely difficult position after the Civil War gives an unprecedented view of the era and of one solitary woman’s attempt to negotiate its social and legal complexities in her struggle to find justice. Baum’s meticulously researched narrative will be of keen interest to legal scholars and to all those interested in the plight of freed slaves during this era.

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Designing Gotham

West Point Engineers and the Rise of Modern New York, 1817-1898

by Jon Scott Logel

Between 1817 and 1898, New York City evolved from a vital Atlantic port of trade to the center of American commerce and culture. With this rapid commercial growth and cultural development, New York came to epitomize a nineteenth-century metropolis. Although this important urban transformation is well documented, the critical role of select Union soldiers turned New York engineers has, until now, remained largely unexplored. In Designing Gotham, Jon Scott Logel examines the fascinating careers of George S. Greene, Egbert L. Viele, John Newton, Henry Warner Slocum, and Fitz John Porter, all of whom studied engineering at West Point, served in the United States Army during the Civil War, and later advanced their civilian careers and status through the creation of Victorian New York. These influential cadets trained at West Point in the nation’s first engineering school, a program designed by Sylvanus Thayer and Dennis Hart Mahan that would shape civil engineering in New York and beyond. After the war, these industrious professionals leveraged their education and military experience to wield significant influence during New York’s social, economic, and political transformation. Logel examines how each engineer’s Civil War service shaped his contributions to postwar activities in the city, including the construction of the Croton Aqueduct, the creation of Central Park, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Logel also delves into the administration of New York’s municipal departments, in which Military Academy alumni interacted with New York elites, politicians, and civilian-trained engineers. Examining the West Pointers’ experiences—as cadets, military officers during the war, and New Yorkers—Logel assesses how these men impacted the growing metropolis, the rise of professionalization, and the advent of Progressivism at the end of the century.

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The Emancipation Proclamation

Three Views

Harold Holzer, Edna G. Medford, and Frank J. Williams. foreword by John Hope Franklin

The Emancipation Proclamation is the most important document of arguably the greatest president in U.S. history. Now, Edna Greene Medford, Frank J. Williams, and Harold Holzer—eminent experts in their fields—remember, analyze, and interpret the Emancipation Proclamation in three distinct respects: the influence of and impact upon African Americans; the legal, political, and military exigencies; and the role pictorial images played in establishing the document in public memory. The result is a carefully balanced yet provocative study that views the proclamation and its author from the perspective of fellow Republicans, antiwar Democrats, the press, the military, the enslaved, free blacks, and the antislavery white establishment, as well as the artists, publishers, sculptors, and their patrons who sought to enshrine Abraham Lincoln and his decree of freedom in iconography. Medford places African Americans, the people most affected by Lincoln's edict, at the center of the drama rather than at the periphery, as previous studies have done. She argues that blacks interpreted the proclamation much more broadly than Lincoln intended it, and during the postwar years and into the twentieth century they became disillusioned by the broken promise of equality and the realities of discrimination, violence, and economic dependence. Williams points out the obstacles Lincoln overcame in finding a way to confiscate property—enslaved humans—without violating the Constitution. He suggests that the president solidified his reputation as a legal and political genius by issuing the proclamation as Commander-in-Chief, thus taking the property under the pretext of military necessity. Holzer explores how it was only after Lincoln's assassination that the Emancipation Proclamation became an acceptable subject for pictorial celebration. Even then, it was the image of the martyr-president as the great emancipator that resonated in public memory, while any reference to those African Americans most affected by the proclamation was stripped away. This multilayered treatment reveals that the proclamation remains a singularly brave and bold act—brilliantly calculated to maintain the viability of the Union during wartime, deeply dependent on the enlightened voices of Lincoln's contemporaries, and owing a major debt in history to the image-makers who quickly and indelibly preserved it.

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