Virginia at War, 1863

Virginia at War, 1863

Virginia at War, 1863

Virginia at War, 1863

Synopsis

Between the epic battles of 1862 and the grueling and violent military campaigns that would follow, the year 1863 was oddly quiet for the Confederate state of Virginia. Only one major battle was fought on its soil, at Chancellorsville, and the conflict was one of the Army of Northern Virginia's greatest victories. Yet the pressures of the Civil War turned the daily lives of Virginians -- young and old, men and women, civilians and soldiers -- into battles of their own. Despite minimal combat, 1863 was an eventful year in Virginia history -- Stonewall Jackson died within its borders and Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In Virginia at War, 1863, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. present these and other key events, as well as a discussion of the year's military land operations to reveal the political, social, and cultural ramifications of the ongoing national conflict. By this time, the war had profoundly transformed nearly every aspect of Virginia life and culture, from education to religion to commerce. Mounting casualties and depleted resources made the citizens of the Commonwealth feel the deprivations of war more deeply than ever. Virginia at War, 1863 surveys these often overlooked elements of the conflict. Contributors focus on the war's impact on Virginia's children and its newly freed slaves. They shed light on the origins of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, explore the popularity of scrapbooking as a form of personal recordkeeping, and consider the changing role of religion during wartime and the uncertain faith of Virginia's Christians. The book concludes with the 1863 entries of the Diary of a Southern Refugee by Richmond's Judith Brockenbrough McGuire. At the midpoint of the Civil War, the hostility of this great American struggle had become an ingrained part of Virginia life. Virginia at War, 1863 is the third volume of a five-book series that reexamines the Commonwealth's history as an integral part of the Confederacy. The series looks beyond military campaigns and tactics to consider how the war forever changed the people, culture, and society of Virginia.

Excerpt

After all the activity of 1862 on the battlefields, the year that followed in some ways seemed like a return to 1861 for Virginians. There was but one major battle on their soil, though it cost them one of their two great heroes of the conflict. Other actions were minor by comparison, and the greatest battlefield effort of the year for Virginian armies took place in the North, at Gettysburg. Perhaps it is well that it was so, for by 1863 the pressures of the conflict, not just in the Old Dominion but all across the Confederacy, were turning other aspects of life in the state into battlegrounds of their own.

Consequently, this third volume of the series Virginia at War looks more inward, at what the war was doing to the people and their institutions by the midpoint of the conflict. From the outset, the approach of this series has been to provide only a broad outline of military operations of each year for reference and context, but otherwise to stay off the battlefield to examine the war experience in its political, social, economic, and even psychological aspects. in this respect 1863 is a particularly rich year for study, for by then the war was stamping its impress upon virtually everything in the average Virginian’s daily life. It interrupted the education of youth, disrupted the affairs of the church and challenged the faith of every flock, provided opportunities never before available to some of Virginia’s slaves, and pitted families against one another in miniature echoes of the war itself. It made Virginians look for new occupations to take their minds from the uncertainty and anxiety of what was happening at the front, and come to terms with what was happening among their brothers-turned-enemies in the North.

Preceded by the epic activity of 1862 and half a dozen major battles, and soon to be followed by the grueling military campaigning of 1864, the year 1863 itself was oddly a rather quiet year militarily for the Old Dominion. Only one major battle would be fought on its soil, though that one, Chancellorsville, would be the greatest victory of the Army of Northern Virginia’s career. Other than some inconclusive, might-have-been operations in the . . .

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