Cover image for The war was you and me : civilians in the American Civil War
The war was you and me : civilians in the American Civil War
Cashin, Joan E.
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 397 pages, 14 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
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E468.9 .W28 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Though civilians constituted the majority of the nation's population and were intimately involved with almost every aspect of the war, we know little about the civilian experience of the Civil War. That experience was inherently dramatic. Southerners lived through the breakup of basic social and economic institutions, including, of course, slavery. Northerners witnessed the reorganization of society to fight the war. And citizens of the border regions grappled with elemental questions of loyalty that reached into the family itself.

These original essays--all commissioned from established scholars, based on archival research, and written for a wide readership--recover the stories of civilians from Natchez to New England. They address the experiences of men, women, and children; of whites, slaves, and free blacks; and of civilians from numerous classes. Not least of these stories are the on-the-ground experiences of slaves seeking emancipation and the actions of white Northerners who resisted the draft. Many of the authors present brand new material, such as the war's effect on the sounds of daily life and on reading culture. Others examine the war's premiere events, including the battle of Gettysburg and the Lincoln assassination, from fresh perspectives. Several consider the passionate debate that broke out over how to remember the war, a debate that has persisted into our own time.

In addition to the editor, the contributors are Peter W. Bardaglio, William Blair, W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Margaret S. Creighton, J. Matthew Gallman, Joseph T. Glatthaar, Anthony E. Kaye, Robert Kenzer, Elizabeth D. Leonard, Amy E. Murrell, George C. Rable, Nina Silber, Mark M. Smith, Mary Saracino Zboray, and Ronald J. Zboray. Together they describe the profound transformations in community relations, gender roles, race relations, and culture wrought by the central event in American history.

Author Notes

Joan E. Cashin is Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier and the editor of Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Fifteen essays comprise this study of the experiences of civilians (of both races and sexes) during the Civil War, offering more evidence of the trend of examining home front life in both the North and South during the extraordinary time of war. Although civilians were insulated from the worst horrors of war, they were greatly affected by the conflict. The essays generally fall into one of several categories. A few deal with community and family; others provide insight into what changes the war caused for women. In addition to gender, several essayists examine adjustments in regard to race. More traditional topics that have previously commanded consideration--political and economic situations--are not addressed. These are fresh topics, written in an engaging style by solid historians, and based on primary sources. A scholarly attention to individuals and military campaigns has meant that until recently, the civilian side of the war has been neglected. Yet, the editor notes the "inherent drama of the civil war experiences" of the general population, whatever their allegiance. This volume takes its place in what some have called the "new social history" of the Civil War. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers and upper-division undergraduates and above. W. W. Rogers Jr. Gainesville College

Table of Contents

Joan E. CashinMark M. SmithNina SilberAnthony E. KayeGeorge C. RableRobert KenzerW. Fitzhugh BrundageJ. Matthew GallmanWilliam BlairMargaret S. CreightonRonald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino ZborayJoan E. CashinElizabeth D. LeonardPeter W. BardaglioJoseph T. GlatthaarAmy E. Murrell
Editor's Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Editor's Introductionp. 1
Part 1 The South
1. Of Bells, Booms, Sounds, and Silences: Listening to the Civil War Southp. 9
2. A Compound of Wonderful Potency: Women Teachers of the North in the Civil War Southp. 35
3. Slaves, Emancipation, and the Powers of War: Views from the Natchez District of Mississippip. 60
4. Hearth, Home, and Family in the Fredericksburg Campaignp. 85
5. The Uncertainty of Life: A Profile of Virginia's Civil War Widowsp. 112
6. Race, Memory, and Masculinity: Black Veterans Recall the Civil Warp. 136
Part 2 The North
7. An Inspiration to Work: Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, Public Oratorp. 159
8. We Are Coming, Father Abraham--Eventually: The Problem of Northern Nationalism in the Pennsylvania Recruiting Drives of 1862p. 183
9. Living on the Fault Line: African American Civilians and the Gettysburg Campaignp. 209
10. Cannonballs and Books: Reading and the Disruption of Social Ties on the New England Home Frontp. 237
11. Deserters, Civilians, and Draft Resistance in the Northp. 262
12. Mary Surratt and the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincolnp. 286
Part 3 The Border Regions
13. On the Border: White Children and the Politics of War in Marylandp. 313
14. Duty, Country, Race, and Party: The Evans Family of Ohiop. 332
15. Union Father, Rebel Son: Families and the Question of Civil War Loyaltyp. 358
About the Contributorsp. 393
Indexp. 395