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  • Predictions
  • Stephen Berry

Civil War scholarship has never been in a healthier place or in broader agreement on fundamentals. Was the war destructive? Yes. Total? No. Hard? Yes. Did the home front matter? Yes. But battles mattered too, right? Yes, but you're bugging me by acting like these are two entirely different things. Did slavery cause the war? Yes. But states' rights mattered too, right? Yes, if you mean a state's right to protect its interest in slaves. Was the war won and lost in the West? Yes, militarily. Was it won and lost in the East? Yes, politically. Was the South modernizing? Yes. But not as quickly as the North, right? Well, maybe, but you're bugging me again by acting like modernization (and capitalism) have only one form. Was guerrilla warfare important? Yes. But was it decisive? We don't know yet—but it will never be ignored again. Did African Americans bring slavery down? Yes, but not without the help of the Union army. Did a divided Confederacy bring itself down? Yes, but again, not without the help of the Union army. (The Yankees, as Pickett famously said of his own defeat, had something to do with it.) Did the North fight the war with one hand tied behind its back? No, it simply had a bigger job to do, and besides, when you're fighting a war against yourself, you want to win by as little as possible. And that's why the war evolved? And that's why the war evolved.

With so many of these old debates quiescent, where does that leave us; where do we go from here? In the following forum, scholars offer their predictions as to how their subfields will evolve over the next ten years in eight specific areas: nationalism studies; the environmental history of the war; the history of race; the study of Northern civilians, especially African American women; the fading notion that there even was a Confederate home front; military history; and the emerging field of capitalism and slavery. Leading off, I offer my "top ten" predictions for how broader professional trends will reshape Civil War historiography in the next decade. [End Page 3]

Stephen Berry
University of Georgia


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