- Contested Loyalty: Debates over Patriotism in the Civil War Northed. by Robert M. Sandow, and: Our Country: Northern Evangelicals and the Union during the Civil War Eraby Grant R. Brodrecht
The Fordham University Press series The North's Civil War has provided stellar scholarship on the northern Civil War experience for many years. While the Civil War–era South lures many social and cultural historians, as well as scholars of memory studies, Fordham University Press continues to highlight important work on the Union and its multifaceted war effort. Two of the most recent contributions to the series maintain this invaluable tradition and drive Civil War scholarship forward. Contested Loyalty: Debates over Patriotism in the Civil War Northedited by Robert M. Sandow and Our Country: Northern Evangelicals and the Union during the Civil War Eraauthored by Grant R. Brodrecht provide insight on several understudied aspects of the American Civil War. Taken together, these two books demonstrate exciting developments underway in the field of Civil War history.
In Contested Loyalty, editor Sandow presents ten thought-provoking essays by some of the most talented Civil War historians writing today. The essays examine the significance of the concept of loyalty to different groups of people during and after the war. The essays underscore the notion that loyalty did not mean one thing. Rather, how people interpreted the concept of loyalty during the war depended, in part, on their position in society. One of the strengths of this collection is its clear elucidation that the idea of loyalty during the war was complicated. Each essay serves as an individual case study of how the varied interpretations of loyalty "played out in everyday life" (p. 8). Several essays also point to the limits of national loyalty. By highlighting voices of dissent, the authors show that loyalty was not simply accepted by all in the North.
Most Civil War scholarship on loyalty centers on the Confederacy. The essays featured in Contested Loyaltyseek to correct this imbalance, and they do so effectively. The necessity of this research is made even more apparent when the ubiquity of the term loyaltyduring the Civil War era is uncovered. Loyalty was on the lips of many in the North, and the frequent debates over the term warrant further investigation.
The essays are roughly organized into thematic groups. The first three essays look at loyalty in the context of national and state politics. Two authors connect the concept of loyalty to the legacy of Reconstruction. The third essay, by Jonathan W. White, provides an enlightening glimpse into the meanings of loyalty through a discussion of the debates in the Pennsylvania legislature about compensation for Confederate raids. The next two chapters explore the understudied topic of college education and its impact during the Civil War era. Sean A. Scott provides a different interpretation of northern Protestant clergy in [End Page 697]his essay, arguing that not all clergymen fit into the categories of loyal and patriotic. The next group of chapters focuses on conversations about loyalty and their implications for notions of labor. This section includes Judith Giesberg's important challenge to the narrative of unquestioningly supportive northern women. Giesberg analyzes northern women's pursuit of improved pay and job security as evidence that northern women's loyalty to the Union cause was not as simple as the traditional narrative suggests. The final section of essays examines the impact of race and ethnicity on loyalty, with the perspectives of Irish Americans and protests by African American Union regiments serving as case studies.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is its powerful demonstration that...