Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War

UNC Press Books
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The Civil War brought many forms of upheaval to America, not only in waking hours but also in the dark of night. Sleeplessness plagued the Union and Confederate armies, and dreams of war glided through the minds of Americans in both the North and South. Sometimes their nightly visions brought the horrors of the conflict vividly to life. But for others, nighttime was an escape from the hard realities of life and death in wartime. In this innovative new study, Jonathan W. White explores what dreams meant to Civil War–era Americans and what their dreams reveal about their experiences during the war. He shows how Americans grappled with their fears, desires, and struggles while they slept, and how their dreams helped them make sense of the confusion, despair, and loneliness that engulfed them.

White takes readers into the deepest, darkest, and most intimate places of the Civil War, connecting the emotional experiences of soldiers and civilians to the broader history of the conflict, confirming what poets have known for centuries: that there are some truths that are only revealed in the world of darkness.

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About the author

Jonathan W. White is associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
UNC Press Books
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Published on
Feb 2, 2017
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781469632056
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / United States
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Jonathan W. White
The Union army's overwhelming vote for Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864 has led many Civil War scholars to conclude that the soldiers supported the Republican Party and its effort to abolish slavery. In Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln Jonathan W. White challenges this reigning paradigm in Civil War historiography, arguing instead that the soldier vote in the presidential election of 1864 is not a reliable index of the army's ideological motivation or political sentiment. Although 78 percent of the soldiers' votes were cast for Lincoln, White contends that this was not wholly due to a political or social conversion to the Republican Party. Rather, he argues, historians have ignored mitigating factors such as voter turnout, intimidation at the polls, and how soldiers voted in nonpresidential elections in 1864.

While recognizing that many soldiers changed their views on slavery and emancipation during the war, White suggests that a considerable number still rejected the Republican platform, and that many who voted for Lincoln disagreed with his views on slavery. He likewise explains that many northerners considered a vote for the Democratic ticket as treasonous and an admission of defeat.

Using previously untapped court-martial records from the National Archives, as well as manuscript collections from across the country, White convincingly revises many commonly held assumptions about the Civil War era and provides a deeper understanding of the Union Army.

Jonathan W. White
The Union army's overwhelming vote for Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864 has led many Civil War scholars to conclude that the soldiers supported the Republican Party and its effort to abolish slavery. In Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln Jonathan W. White challenges this reigning paradigm in Civil War historiography, arguing instead that the soldier vote in the presidential election of 1864 is not a reliable index of the army's ideological motivation or political sentiment. Although 78 percent of the soldiers' votes were cast for Lincoln, White contends that this was not wholly due to a political or social conversion to the Republican Party. Rather, he argues, historians have ignored mitigating factors such as voter turnout, intimidation at the polls, and how soldiers voted in nonpresidential elections in 1864.

While recognizing that many soldiers changed their views on slavery and emancipation during the war, White suggests that a considerable number still rejected the Republican platform, and that many who voted for Lincoln disagreed with his views on slavery. He likewise explains that many northerners considered a vote for the Democratic ticket as treasonous and an admission of defeat.

Using previously untapped court-martial records from the National Archives, as well as manuscript collections from across the country, White convincingly revises many commonly held assumptions about the Civil War era and provides a deeper understanding of the Union Army.

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