Louisianians in the Civil War

Louisianians in the Civil War

Louisianians in the Civil War

Louisianians in the Civil War

Synopsis

Louisianians in the Civil War brings to the forefront the suffering endured by Louisianians during and after the war -- hardships more severe than those suffered by the majority of residents in the Confederacy. The wealthiest southern state before the Civil War, Louisiana was the poorest by 1880. Such economic devastation negatively affected most segments of the state's population, and the fighting that contributed to this financial collapse further fragmented Louisiana's culturally diverse citizenry. The essays in this book deal with the differing segments of Louisiana's society and their interactions with one another.

Louisiana was as much a multicultural society during the Civil War as the United States is today. One manner in which this diversity manifested itself was in the turning of neighbor against neighbor. This volume lays the groundwork for demonstrating that strongholds of Unionist sentiment existed beyond the mountainous regions of the Confederacy and, to a lesser extent, that foreigners and African Americans could surpass white, native-born Southerners in their support of the Lost Cause. Some of the essays deal with the attitudes and hardships the war inflicted on different classes of civilians (sugar planters, slaves, Union sympathizers, and urban residents, especially women), while others deal with specific minority groups or with individuals.

Written by leading scholars of Civil War history, Louisianians in the Civil War provides the reader a rich understanding of the complex ordeals of Louisiana and her people. Students, scholars, and the general reader will welcome this fine addition to Civil War studies.

Excerpt

Lawrence Lee Hewitt

Arthur W. Bergeron Jr.

This volume grew out of a casual conversation in 1999 at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in Fort Worth, Texas. As we had collaborated on three books during the 1980s, we discussed the possibility of working together again in the future and began thinking about potential topics. Simultaneously, we realized that because of a commonality of interests, we should produce a manuscript on some aspect of the Civil War in Louisiana. It took hours to settle upon a theme, but once we agreed, the selection of articles came easily. Louisianians in the Civil War is the result.

Readers may ask, “Why Louisiana?” When the Civil War is viewed as a conflict of brother against brother, border states such as Kentucky first come to mind. When analyzed in terms of regions of Unionist sentiment within the Confederacy, East Tennessee or West Virginia predominate. If considered in terms of economic destruction, Sherman's March to the Sea would almost certainly come to mind first (even though his march through the Carolinas that followed was even more destructive). But what of Louisiana and its citizens?

Analysis of data from the 2000 Census led various news organizations to claim that in July 2000 the minorities of California had become the majority of its citizens. Yet despite the cultural diversities in that state, many would argue that such differences are visually more apparent in Louisiana now, and have been since before the Civil War. They could point out how its cultural diversity can be seen in the varieties of architectural styles used in its buildings, remaining today, that predate 1860, and cite the census of that year to document the numerous ethnic groups that resided in the bayou state.

In 1860, Louisiana was the wealthiest state in the South and second only to New York in the entire nation. Twenty years later, while not the poorest state, Louisiana ranked last among Southern states. Such . . .

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