Virginia at War, 1864

Virginia at War, 1864

Virginia at War, 1864

Virginia at War, 1864

Synopsis

The fourth book in the Virginia at War series casts a special light on vital home front matters in Virginia during 1864. Following a year in which only one major battle was fought on Virginia soil, 1864 brought military campaigning to the Old Dominion. For the first time during the Civil War, the majority of Virginia's forces fought inside the state's borders. Yet soldiers were a distinct minority among the Virginians affected by the war. In Virginia at War, 1864, scholars explore various aspects of the civilian experience in Virginia including transportation and communication, wartime literature, politics and the press, higher education, patriotic celebrations, and early efforts at reconstruction in Union-occupied Virginia. The volume focuses on the effects of war on the civilian infrastructure as well as efforts to maintain the Confederacy. As in previous volumes, the book concludes with an edited and annotated excerpt of the Judith Brockenbrough McGuire diary.

Excerpt

For Virginians, 1864 brought the war home as never before. Indeed, for the first time, for the bulk of Virginia’s forces, the war was fought entirely in the Old Dominion. Never before had the conflict taken such a toll on the landscape and the civilian population, while for the men under arms it was a story of unrelentingly diminishing numbers and resources. Under any other army commander in the Confederacy, Virginia likely would have been lost in 1864. It was only the brilliance and determination of Gen. Robert E. Lee that kept the Commonwealth’s military forces intact and able to retard, if not stop, the relentless advance of the Union. Yet the men of Lee’s army, and those other Virginia soldiers spread from northern Virginia to the most southwesterly reaches of the state, were a minority of the Virginians involved in and affected by the war. All of them combined had endured more than two and one-half years of intermittent warfare on home soil by January 1864, and unknowingly they were about to enter a phase in which the war would be with them all day, every day, until the end.

This current volume of Virginia at War casts a special focus on vital home front matters in the Commonwealth during the war. Subjects such as politics, patriotism, transportation, agriculture, education, literature, emancipation, and journalism may not carry with them the allure of campaigns and battles, generals and regiments, but they were the vital raw materials both of the war effort and of the civilian infrastructure necessary to keep armies in the field. in a democracy, and in an American democracy perhaps most of all, it is these nonmilitary matters that help to distinguish between a militaristic state at war and a fully developed society in conflict. After this book sets the context in a general essay on military operations in the state in 1864, essays on these subjects reveal the full breadth of the impact of the war on the entire polity as well as the influence on the war effort of things as diverse as professors and poems, potatoes and potholes, canals and cabbages, and much more. As in earlier volumes, while this one is titled 1864, in fact . . .

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