Life in Civil War America

Life in Civil War America

Life in Civil War America

Life in Civil War America

Synopsis

Author and historian Michael J. Varhola takes you back in time to the Civil War, illuminating both the sweeping changes and cultural norms that shaped the everyday lives of soldiers and civilians during the war that divided the nation. Inside You'll Find: A look at the social and economic realities of daily life in the Union and Confederacy, from big cities and small towns to plantations and communes An explanation of military life in the army and navy, from rankings and regiments to duties and dress The typical diets of soldiers and civilians; including period recipes, food preparation, and the impact of shortages and inflation on rations Definitions of common terms, slang, and idioms of the era Dozens of Civil War photographs and illustrations, plus an appendix on the role photography played during the war by Maureen A. Taylor A quick-reference timeline detailing the events of the war Tips for researching ancestors who fought in the Civil War Information on Civil War resources books, periodicals, websites and historic sites A foreword by Eric J. Wittenberg, Civil War author and historian Discover what it was like to sit around the campfire cooking hellfire stew and "throwing the papers" with fellow soldiers. Or trade coffee for tobacco with the enemy under a truce signal during the siege of Petersburg. On the home front, pass the time and find some distraction from war worries at a starvation party, where the only refreshment served was water. Experience life in Civil War America today.

Excerpt

Attempts to document the day-to-day lives and routines of Civil War soldiers began almost as soon as the volunteer forces mustered into service. Numerous Northern and Southern newspapers published letters by soldiers—often written pseudonymously— detailing their day-to-day activities. Because the soldiers knew that their friends and families at home would read these letters, they were usually very accurate and very reliable, and they were typically contemporaneous to the events they described.

After the war, hundreds of memoirs were published, many by highranking officers, but also many written by common soldiers. the historiography of the Civil War is filled with superb first-person accounts, such as Sam Watkins’ iconic Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment or, a Side Show of the Big Show, which provides a humorous but detailed view of life in a Confederate regiment, or Wilbur Hinman’s fine book, Corporal Si Klegg and His “Pard”: How They Lived and Talked, and What They Did and Suffered, While Fighting for the Flag, which provides an accurate picture of life in a Northern regiment. John D. Billings’ wonderful memoir, Hardtack and Coffee: the Unwritten Story of Army Life, also provides the same sort of insight and humor.

Modern historians have also tried to capture the same essence, using modern historical methods and drawing on the vast array of sources that exist. Two of the best-known examples are Bell I. Wiley’s two classic studies, The Life of Johnny Reb: the Common Soldier of the Confederacy and The Life of Billy Yank: the Common Soldier of the Union, both of which set the standard for this sort of study. Prof. James M. McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War endeavors to . . .

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