The Journal of the Civil War Era

The Journal of the Civil War Era publishes the most creative new work on the many issues raised by the sectional crisis, war, Reconstruction, and memory of the country’s signal conflict, while bringing fresh understanding to the struggles that defined the period, and by extension, the course of American history in the nineteenth century.

Articles

Vol. 7, No. 3, September

Editor's Note
The essays in this volume should inspire us to reconsider how we measure the changes wrought by the Civil War. Two pieces highlight how the postwar South remained littered with traps that ensnared freedpeople and poor whites in poverty and dependency....
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The Catholic Press, the Bible, and Protestant Responsibility for the Civil War
In his April 3, 1865, diary entry, George Templeton Strong recorded the transcendent exultation he witnessed in New York City when news arrived that Richmond had fallen to Union forces. Strong, a prominent lawyer, founder of the U.S. Sanitary Commission,...
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"If Heart Speaks Not to Heart": Condolence Letters and Confederate Widows' Grief
On May 6, 1863, Leila Habersham strolled through her wealthy family's well-tended garden in Savannah, Georgia, chatting with a friend. A shout from the nearby house shattered the calm. Running home, Leila discovered terrible news--her husband was dead....
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Freedom, Economic Autonomy, and Ecological Change in the Cotton South, 1865-1880
Within the vast scholarship on post-Civil War southern agriculture, there is a common narrative. The region emerged from the conflict defeated, physically scarred, and economically handicapped. Its 4 million slaves were free but faced significant obstacles...
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Pensions and Protest Former Slaves and the Reconstructed American State
A chilling wind tore through central Georgia in the winter of1865. Huddled in tents near Atlanta was the 138th U.S. Colored Troops, organized nearby just months before. One of the last black regiments formed in the Civil War, it drew its numbers from...
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Rethinking the Confederate Home Front
This essay began with a conceptual problem I encountered while writing a book about the escape of several thousand Union prisoners of war from the Carolinas during the fall of 1864 and the new insights those escapes revealed about the collapse of the...
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March

Editor's Note
One hundred and fifty years since Reconstruction, we believe now is a propitious time to take stock of the scholarly literature and public memory that shape our collective understanding of that crucial era. Almost thirty years after the publication...
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The Future of Reconstruction Studies
Historians of Reconstruction are currently at a crossroads. Reconstruction remains one of the most controversial--and least understood--aspects of American history, and that controversy began in the era of the Civil War itself. The genealogy of historiographic...
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The Future of Reconstruction Studies Reconstruction in the West
It is time to reconstruct our thinking about Reconstruction. Specifically, we need to reconceive the middle of the nineteenth century as a time when the United States was fundamentally changed by two events, the Civil War and our expansion to the Pacific...
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The Unfinished Task of Grounding Reconstruction's Promise
Reconstruction's promise certainly exceeded its accomplishments. Yet so long as Reconstruction survived, so did the possibility of change.... Its legacy deserves to survive as an inspiration to those Americans, black and white alike, who insist that...
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Reconstructing Memory: The Attempt to Designate Beaufort, South Carolina, the National Park Service's First Reconstruction Unit
A phone call in 2000 from Bruce Babbitt, then secretary of the interior, to Eric Foner, the nation's foremost scholar of Reconstruction, planted the seed for a National Park Service (NPS) site in Beaufort, South Carolina, to preserve and interpret...
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Teaching Race and Reconstruction
W. E. B. Du Bois concludes his 1935 tome Black Reconstruction in America by describing the tragic end of this period as a "crash of hell" falling on African Americans in a "whirlwind" of postemancipation violence. He then depicts this whirlwind as...
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Reconstruction in Public History and Memory Sesquicentennial
The public memory of Reconstruction has long been a complex and fraught subject in the United States. But where do we stand now, and what will Reconstruction's sesquicentennial entail? What issues confront scholars, civil rights advocates, public history...
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Books Received
Army, Thomas F., Jr. Engineering Victory: How Technology Won the Civil War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016. Barr, Gene. A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat from Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign....
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Vol. 6, No. 4, December

Editor's Note
The essays in this issue are devoted to exploring the Civil War in the West, or, perhaps more aptly, they treat the war and Reconstruction as part of a long project of American empire building that resulted in a number of military conflicts, including...
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Reconstructing the Great Plains: The Long Struggle for Sovereignty and Dominance in the Heart of the Continent
The history of the Civil War era is in the midst of a western turn. Just as the historians of Early America have adopted a continental perspective for their field, so too have the historians of the Civil War era widened their optics. They have begun...
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The Civil War from Apache Pass
You are standing in an old wagon rut in Apache Pass, Arizona. The blue grama grasses undulate in the breeze and the grasshoppers whir around your feet. You are somewhat out of breath, as it is more than five thousand feet above sea level in the pass....
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Jefferson Davis and Proslavery Visions of Empire in the Far West
Snatching odd moments during sentinel duty at Fort Fauntleroy in New Mexico, William Need penned an urgent message to Secretary of War Simon Cameron in September 1861. Thousands of miles from the killing fields of Manassas, Virginia, where the Union...
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Beyond North and South Putting the West in the Civil War and Reconstruction
U.S. regional history owes its existence, in large part, to the study of the Civil War. Almost as soon as the Civil War ended, historians of the conflict identified regionalism as a central framework for understanding U.S. national history in the nineteenth...
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Books Received
Barringer, Sheridan R. Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie LLC, 2016. Connor, Albert Z. Jr. and Chris Mackowski. Seizing Destiny: The Army of the...
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Vol. 6, No. 3, September

Editor's Note
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....
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A Tale of Two Armies: The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac and Their Cultures
Every organization or institution develops a culture, and armies are no different. The culture of an army is important because it determines and influences proper and improper conduct individually and collectively. It imposes standards and expectations...
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"Like a Cord through the Whole Country": Union Bonds and Financial Mobilization for Victory
On September 18, 1863, on the eve of his trial, Union spy Spencer Kellogg Brown wrote from his Richmond jail cell to his sister Kitty, relaying to her the supreme faith he held in the Almighty. "God has been very kind to me, and for the past twelve...
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Guerrilla Warfare, Slavery, and the Hopes of the Confederacy
In 1861, on the very eve of the Civil War, Edmund Ruffin published a speculative novel titled Anticipations of the Future: To Serve as Lessons for the Present Time, in the Form of Extracts of Letters from an English Resident of the United States, to...
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The Quarrel Forgotten? toward a Clearer Understanding of Sectional Reconciliation
Americans slaughtered one another in horrific numbers in the 1860s. According to the most recent estimate, at least 750,000 soldiers may have perished in the Civil War, while perhaps 50,000 noncombatants died indirectly as a result of military operations....
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Books Received
Anderegg, Michael. Lincoln and Shakespeare. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015. Berry, Stephen. A House Dividing: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Byrd, Joseph P., IV. Confederate Sharpshooter...
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Vol. 6, No. 2, June

Editor's Note
The contents of this issue testify both to the intellectual payoff of thinking about the war as part of an "era" and to the benefits of pursuing transnational and interdisciplinary approaches. Two of the three research articles explore the years leading...
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"To Make Something out of the Dying in This War": The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following represents the acceptance speech for the Watson Brown Prize for the best book published on the Civil War era in the calendar year 2014. Tad Brown, president of the Watson-Brown Foundation, awarded the prize to Shauna Devine...
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The Transatlantic Roots of Irish American Anti-Abolitionism, 1843-1859
That most Irish immigrants opposed both abolitionist reformers and antislavery politicians in the antebellum era was beyond dispute to contemporaries in all three camps. As early as 1842, the abolitionist editor William Lloyd Garrison perceived and...
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Reannealing of the Heart Ties: The Rhetoric of Anglo-American Kinship and the Politics of Reconciliation in the Prince of Wales's 1860 Tour
On the evening of September 20, I860, a crowd estimated at thirty thousand gathered in the Detroit quays. Illuminated by the light of hundreds of colored lanterns affixed to riggings of the docked vessels, the individual faces of those who waited showed...
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"Wrestling at the Gates of Death": Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Nonvisible Disability in the Post-Civil War North
On the night of June 17, 1864, Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain walked anxiously among his sleeping soldiers. They were outside of Petersburg, Virginia, preparing for a major attack against the Confederate city's fortifications. Something was bothering...
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The Salt Water Civil War: Thalassological Approaches, Ocean-Centered Opportunities
Beginning with this journal's 2011 inaugural issue, its contributors and readers have witnessed the conceptual power of oceanic place-names. "Atlantic," "Caribbean," and "Pacific rim" perspectives have been prominently featured, and each has significantly...
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Books Received
Babb, John, Orphan Hero: A Novel of the Civil War (New York: Yucca Publishing / Skyhorse Publishing, 2015). Backus, Bill, and Robert Orrison, A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign, October 9-19, 1863, with a foreword by J. Michael Miller...
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Vol. 6, No. 1, March

Editor's Note
For the past five years, Bill Blair introduced to Journal of the Civil War Era readers the contents of each issue, pointing out the common themes among the essays and indicating when they carry on conversations from previous issues. These short introductions...
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The Local, National, and International Politics of Slavery: Edward Everett's Nomination as U.S. Minister to Great Britain
On July 16, 1841, President John Tyler nominated Edward Everett to be the United States' minister to Great Britain. The Senate debated Everett's nomination in executive sessions; this dragged on intermittently until Everett's appointment was confirmed...
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They Cover the Land like the Locusts of Egypt: Fugitive Federal Prisoners of War and the Collapse of the Confederacy
Three officers from Maine volunteer regiments huddled together for warmth in the woods sixteen miles north of Newberry, South Carolina, on November 10, 1864. They had escaped from a Confederate prisoner=of-war camp outside of Columbia eight days before...
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The Unpredictable America of William Gwin: Expansion, Secession, and the Unstable Borders of Nineteenth-Century North America
In 1865, while the United States struggled to reconstruct itself, war raged in Mexico between invading French forces supporting Emperor Maximilian and partisans of Benito Juarez's republican government. The uncertain futures of the United States and...
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Mission Impossible: Reconstruction Policy Reconsidered
A central theme of Reconstruction historiography is the consideration of Reconstruction policy as debated, adopted, and implemented at the federal level. Inherent in that exercise is the contemplation of whether policymakers, working within the limits...
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Books Received
Beck, Jane C. Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2015. Bradford, Adam C. Communities of Death: Whitman, Poe, and the American Culture of Mourning. Columbia, MO: University...
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Vol. 5, No. 4, December

"Our Work Is Not Yet Finished": Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, 1865-1872
On May 23 and 24, 1865, beneath a "wonderfully beautiful sky," more than two hundred thousand men from the victorious Union armies paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue, past a reviewing stand teeming with elected officials, military officers, and the new...
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A Running Fight against Their Fellow Men: Civil War Veterans in Gilded Age Literature
The most famous fictional soldier of the Civil War is arguably Henry Fleming, whose brush with cowardice helped inspire an iconic portrayal of courage under fire. Far less well-known is Stephen Crane's sketch of Henry's life after the war, the short...
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"They Call Themselves Veterans": Civil War and Spanish War Veterans and the Complexities of Veteranhood
In the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, the Indiana state commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Union army's largest veterans' organization, expressed its support for war with the Spanish empire with a "unanimous,...
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Vol. 5, No. 3, September

Abraham Lincoln and the Political Culture of New Deal America
In the 1930s and '40s, Abraham Lincoln seemed to be everywhere. Having long figured as a predictable staple in Republican Party propaganda, Lincoln now became an object of intense political contention, fought over by New Deal Democrats, Republican...
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Black Litigiousness and White Accountability: Free Blacks and the Rhetoric of Reputation in the Antebellum Natchez District
In September 1822, Fanny, a free woman of color and former slave, appeared before the district court in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. She was suing Francois Gueho, an "evil-minded and disgraceful" white man, for libelous attacks on her reputation....
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Vol. 5, No. 2, June

"The Genesis of This Little Tablet with My Name": Francis Lieber and the Wartime Origins of General Orders No. 100
A war in Mexico left Francis Lieber estranged from Charles Sumner. Fifteen years later, another war rekindled their relationship. For nearly forty years, the two men carried on a close friendship and voluminous correspondence--one that began in 1834,...
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"We Do Not Care Particularly about the Skating Rinks": African American Challenges to Racial Discrimination in Places of Public Amusement in Nineteenth-Century Boston, Massachusetts
On a Saturday in January 1885, Richard Brown, a night inspector of customs and prominent member of Boston's black community, and two of his grandchildren, Louisa and Richard Lewis, approached the ticket booth at the Boston Roller Skating Rink, owned...
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Vol. 5, No. 1, March

From the Rhine to the Mississippi: Property, Democracy, and Socialism in the American Civil War
From within the common national, gradualist, and liberal narrative of emancipation, Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont's August 30, 1861, proclamation freeing all the slaves of disloyal Missourians appears as a recklessly premature step threatening to derail...
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Men of Principle: Gender and the German American War for the Union
Entire families gathered at the federal arsenal in St. Louis on May 4, 1861, to hail the soldiers who were reporting for duty. German songs, toasts, and speeches filled the air, which gave the rally a distinct ethnic flavor. The atmosphere was festive,...
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The Appeal of Racial Neutrality in the Civil War-Era North: German Americans and the Democratic New Departure
On June 9, 1869, a weekly newspaper catering to Wisconsin's Germanspeaking Catholics published a blueprint for reforming the Democratic Party. Under the simple heading "Our Platform," the Milwaukee Seebote outlined sixteen policy demands. The first...
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