Academic journal article The Journal of the Civil War Era

Editor's Note

Academic journal article The Journal of the Civil War Era

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

The contents of this issue testify to the rich rewards that come from digging into Civil War data. Two articles employ social science methods to produce fresh perspectives on the armies fighting in the war's eastern theater and on the Union's war financing. A third article and a review essay fill in where the numbers leave off, exploring the culture of secession and of reconciliation. In all, the issue shows what we can learn about the era by crunching some numbers and following the money and by taking another look at what Civil War Americans wrote and read.

Joseph Glatthaar begins this issue with a probing essay comparing the demographics of the Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of the Potomac and finding in them the basis for the two armies' unique cultures. Glatthaar's methods may lead us to ask new questions about soldier motivation, like, for instance, when he finds that the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia were slightly older and considerably wealthier than their Army of the Potomac counterparts and that these men also registered more personal wealth than their southern white counterparts. What brought men into the war could also drive them out, and Glatthaar follows the men who decide to desert in higher numbers as fathers (Army of Northern Virginia) rather than sons (Army of the Potomac).

David Thomson's essay puts a human face on the Union's wartime financing, uncovering some striking facts about those who bought government bonds. Thomson traces thousands of individual transactions and finds that wartime bonds attracted investments, large and small, from "socialites, politicians, and senior military officials. …

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