Virginia's Private War
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Virginia's Private War : Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861-1865

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William Blair's Virginia's Private War is a close study of the home front in the Confederacy and a significant contribution to our understanding of the Confederate defeat. Blair challenges and effectively overturns the dominant assumption that internal stresses and conflicts, particularly along lines of class and race, undermined the Confederacy. Rather, he shows that for most of the South the centripetal forces of Confederate nationalism and defence of home and hearth against an invading enemy were more powerful. Internal problems, including dissent, wracked the state of Virginia, yet these private wars actually helped prolong the conflict as they forced authorities to turn the war into more of a rich man's fight.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 216 pages
  • 148.6 x 216.9 x 23.4mm | 472.77g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 2 maps
  • 0195118642
  • 9780195118643

Review quote

"Bill Blair has made an important addition to the growing literature on the home front in the Civil War, which adds a crucial dimension to our understanding of that conflict. He demonstrates that, whatever their opinion of the Confederate governemnt and its measures, most Virginians remained loyal to the cause of Southern independence to the bitter end. Instead of sapping the will to win, as some scholars have maintained, white civilians helped to sustain army morale. In Virginia the Confederate cuase did not collapse internally; it was crushed externally by a determined enemy."- James McPherson Princeton University Blair has written a sound, solid, and scholarly work that well merits the attention it undoubtedly will receive * The Historian (Autumn 2000) * William Blair's contribution to the long-running debate is well-researched, lucidly written, and persuasive * Reviews in American History 27 (1999) * Blair has significantly advanced our understanding of the Confederate experience * Reviews in American History 27 (1999) *show more

About William A. Blair

Formerly Assistant Professor of United States History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, William Blair is now Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, where he is also the Director of the Civil War Era Institute. He won the 1996 Allan Nevins Prize (given by the American Society of Historians for the best American History dissertation) and served as the co-editor of A Politician Goes to War: The Civil War Letters of John White Geary (1995).show more

Back cover copy

This book tells the story of how Confederate civilians in the Old Dominion struggled to feed not only their stomachs but also their souls. Although demonstrating the ways in which the war created many problems within southern communities, Virginia's Private War: Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861-1865 does not support scholars who claim that internal dissent caused the Confederacy's downfall. Instead, it offers a study of the Virginia home front that depicts how the Union army's continued pressure created destruction, hardship, and shortages that left the Confederate public spent and demoralized with the surrender of the army under Robert E. Lee. However, the book does not portray the population as uniformly united in a Lost Cause. Virginians complained a great deal about the management of the war. Such complaints, ironically, may have prolonged the war, for some of the Confederacy's leaders responded by forcing the wealthy to shoulder more of the burden for prosecuting the conflict. Substitution ended, and the men who stayed home became government growers who distributed goods at reduced cost to the poor. But ultimately, as the case is made in Virginia's Private War, none of these efforts could stave off an enemy who strained the resources of Rebel Virginians to the breaking point.show more

Rating details

17 ratings
3.23 out of 5 stars
5 6% (1)
4 29% (5)
3 47% (8)
2 18% (3)
1 0% (0)
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