Civil War - U.S.

Civil War 150 Exhibition: Suggested Readings

Civil War 150 Exhibition: Suggested Readings

The Civil War 150 exhibition planners recommend these titles for possible book group discussions. Books whose titles are linked may be found in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Please click on the title to begin the reserve process. Other books may be available through our interlibrary loan service.

Causes behind the Civil War:

New Documentary, Death and the Civil War, on PBS

On Tuesday, September 18, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Antietam--the single bloodiest day of battle on American soil, PBS’ American Experience will premiere a new NEH-funded documentary, Death and the Civil War, by six-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns.

Based on the book This Republic of Suffering by historian Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 2011 Jefferson Lecturer, the documentary examines how the unprecedented death toll and carnage of the war challenged American cultural attitudes about death and fundamentally transformed federal government policies towards soldiers.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Lectures on His New John Brown Book, Midnight Rising

Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Horwitz will lecture on his new book, Midnight Rising, on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m. at the Culpeper County Library.

The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat

By Gary W. Gallagher

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"If one is to believe contemporary historians, the South never had a chance. Many allege that the Confederacy lost the Civil War because of internal division or civilian disaffection; others point to flawed military strategy or ambivalence over slavery. But, argues distinguished historian Gary Gallagher, we should not ask why the Confederacy collapsed so soon but rather how it lasted so long. In The Confederate War he reexamines the Confederate experience through the actions and words of the people who lived it to show how the home front responded to the war, endured great hardships, and assembled armies that fought with tremendous spirit and determination.

"Gallagher's portrait highlights a powerful sense of Confederate patriotism and unity in the face of a determined adversary. Drawing on letters, diaries, and newspapers of the day, he shows that Southerners held not only an unflagging belief in their way of life, which sustained them to the bitter end, but also a widespread expectation of victory and a strong popular will closely attuned to military events.

"In fact, the army's 'offensive-defensive' strategy came remarkably close to triumph, claims Gallagher--in contrast to the many historians who believe that a more purely defensive strategy or a guerrilla resistance could have won the war for the South. To understand why the South lost, Gallagher says we need look no further than the war itself: after a long struggle that brought enormous loss of life and property, Southerners finally realized that they had been beaten on the battlefield."

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Mosby's Keydet Rangers

By Eric W. Buckland

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"Mosby's Keydet Rangers includes a large amount of previously unpublished material that gives the reader new insights into the young men who matriculated at VMI and rode with Colonel John Singleton Mosby. It is a comprehensive collection of short biographical sketches, personal letters, accounts of raids and incidents, anecdotes, newspaper articles, passages from books, memorials, and obituaries that brings the young Rangers to life and sheds new light on their operations during the war."

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Virginia at War: 1865

By William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, Jr., editors

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"By January 1865, most of Virginia's schools were closed, many newspapers had ceased publication, businesses suffered, and food was scarce. Having endured major defeats on their home soil and the loss of much of the state's territory to the Union army, Virginia's Confederate soldiers began to desert at higher rates than at any other time in the war, returning home to provide their families with whatever assistance they could muster. It was a dark year for Virginia. Virginia at War, 1865 closely examines the end of the Civil War in the Old Dominion, delivering a striking depiction of a state ravaged by violence and destruction.

"In the final volume of the Virginia at War series, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. have once again assembled an impressive collection of essays covering topics that include land operations, women and families, wartime economy, music and entertainment, the demobilization of Lee's army, and the war's aftermath. The volume ends with the final installment of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire's popular and important Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War."

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Virginia at War: 1865, edited by William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, Jr.

The opening months of the Civil War had a certain boldness and cachet to them. Young men in particular signed up in droves.  Picnickers came down from D.C. to take a gander at the First Battle of Manassas, discovering all too quickly that war is no theatrical entertainment.  However, four years later when the South was playing an end-game, the damage to not just its army but also to its civilians was clearly a factor in its surrender. In 1863, there had been bread riots in Richmond.  In 1864, the Shenandoah Valley’s crops and businesses had been burned by Union General Sheridan who was advised by his commander Grant to ”Give the enemy no rest ... Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can.”

And so it was. The civilians and soldiers alike were hit with shortages, and the last year of the war was a particularly brutal time. In William C. Davis’ and James I. Robertson, Jr.’s Virginia at War: 1865, the editors include eight essays by modern scholars and a diary from a Virginia woman, the wife of a minister, who observed that last year from her refugee quarters in Richmond where she served as a nurse and a clerk.

Great Lives Lecture Series: A Civil War Soldier

The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series concludes on Thursday, April 26, with a lecture on lives of Civil War soldiers by James Robertson, author of The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War.

Professor Robertson spoke previously as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series on Stonewall Jackson. He returns to UMW to discuss the daily lives of the Civil War soldiers.  That topic is treated in the latest of his numerous books, The Untold Civil War, which is a visually striking collection of the 132 episodes of his popular public radio “Civil War Series” stories, illustrated with 475 rare images of battle scenes, artifacts, and people. Having retired recently from the history faculty at Virginia Tech, he achieved iconic stature as a Civil War scholar, going back to his appointment as executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, working with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary. The recipient of every major award given in the Civil War field— and a mesmerizing lecturer of national acclaim — Bud Robertson is probably more in demand as a speaker before Civil War groups than anyone else in the field.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of a Civil War soldier check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: J.E.B. Stuart

Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 3, with a lecture on J.E.B. Stuart by Emory Thomas, author of Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart.

James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart was the most famous Confederate cavalryman of the Civil War — and one of its most dashing figures.  Born in Virginia and educated at West Point, he was a trusted associate of Robert E. Lee, leading the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry in important battles including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness –  as well as Gettysburg, where his actions proved controversial.  His death in Richmond in spring 1864 marked the decline of the superiority of the Confederate horse during the war. Emory M. Thomas is Regents Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Georgia, a long-time member of the history department faculty, and the author of eight books, including authoritative biographies of Lee and Stuart.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of J.E.B. Stuart check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

The Civil War and Food

A Taste for War by William C. Davis

When one thinks about the U.S. Civil War, or the War Between the States, one does not come up with images of food and recipes.  Rather, it is the exact opposite: we think about hunger and even starvation.  But the truth is, some of the most creative recipes are invented at times when the basic food elements are scarce.