The Civil War: A Concise History

Oxford University Press
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One hundred and fifty years after the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter, the Civil War still captures the American imagination, and its reverberations can still be felt throughout America's social and political landscape. Louis P. Masur's The Civil War: A Concise History offers a masterful and eminently readable overview of the war's multiple causes and catastrophic effects. Masur begins by examining the complex origins of the war, focusing on the pulsating tensions over states rights and slavery. The book then proceeds to cover, year by year, the major political, social, and military events, highlighting two important themes: how the war shifted from a limited conflict to restore the Union to an all-out war that would fundamentally transform Southern society, and the process by which the war ultimately became a battle to abolish slavery. Masur explains how the war turned what had been a loose collection of fiercely independent states into a nation, remaking its political, cultural, and social institutions. But he also focuses on the soldiers themselves, both Union and Confederate, whose stories constitute nothing less than America's Iliad. In the final chapter Masur considers the aftermath of the South's surrender at Appomattox and the clash over the policies of reconstruction that continued to divide President and Congress, conservatives and radicals, Southerners and Northerners for years to come. In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley wrote that the war had "wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character that the influence cannot be measured short of two or three generations." From the vantage of the war's sesquicentennial, this concise history of the entire Civil War era offers an invaluable introduction to the dramatic events whose effects are still felt today.
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About the author

Louis P. Masur is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. His many books include Lincoln's Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion (OUP, 2015), Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union, and "the real war will never get in the books": Selections from Writers during the Civil War (OUP, 1993).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Feb 10, 2011
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Pages
136
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ISBN
9780199792931
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The history of the Jeff Davis Artillery is the story of a company of Alabamians who fought with valor and distinction for the Confederacy during more than three and a half years of active service. As part of the Army of Northern Virginia, these soldiers played an integral part in most of the major campaigns of the Eastern Theatre, participating in the crucial battles at Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, and Spotsylvania, among others. Here, Lawrence Laboda tells the story of an artillery unit relatively unknown to Civil War enthusiasts, but whose performance on the fields of battle more than justified the honor of being named after the President of the Confederacy. After their recruitment in Selma, Alabama, we learn that the men of the Jeff Davis Artillery found themselves under many different commanders. It was only when First Lieutenant Robert F. Beckham, Captain James W. Bondurant, and Captain William J. Reese took command that the unit matured as a military organization, and provided its most efficient service on the field of battle. Even though unfortunate circumstances later in the war caused the company to be divided between two commands, the Alabama Battery's skill and determination carried through in all of the engagements that followed. On more than one occassion, the Jeff Davis Artillery received praise from the Confederate high command, including General Robert E. Lee himself. Within the Confederate Army, the reputation of the unit was no doubt one of the best, but after the fighting was done, the war record of this particular company, except for a rare article or mention in an obituary, never received proper recognition. It is only fitting, therefore, that the entire story of the gallant Alabamians finally be told. From Selma to Appomattox goes beyond the unit's combat record to explore its day to day challenges. Conditions on and off the battlefield were less than ideal at times, and from the beginning, the company as a whole fell victim to the horrors of disease. One glance down the roster list shows the extreme seriousness of the situation. Even disease was not their most immediate concern, however, as Laboda describes the unit's difficulties in finding food, horses, and even recruits while enduring the reorganizations of an army at war. With the assistance of numerous detailed maps, he follows the ever-proud Alabamians into their first fight at Seven Pines, through the major battles of the Peninsula, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and Cedar Creek, and ultimately to their surrender at Appomattox.
A signal, violent event in the history of the United States Congress, the caning of Charles Sumner on the Senate floor embodied the complex North-South cultural divide of the mid-nineteenth century. Williamjames Hull Hoffer's vivid account of the brutal act demonstrates just how far the sections had drifted apart and explains why the coming war was so difficult to avoid.

Sumner, a noted abolitionist and gifted speaker, was seated at his Senate desk on May 22, 1856, when Democratic Congressman Preston S. Brooks approached, pulled out a gutta-percha walking stick, and struck him on the head. Brooks continued to beat the stunned Sumner, forcing him to the ground and repeatedly striking him even as the cane shattered. He then pursued the bloodied, staggering Republican senator up the Senate aisle until Sumner collapsed at the feet of Congressman Edwin B. Morgan. Colleagues of the two intervened only after Brooks appeared intent on beating the unconscious Sumner severely—and, perhaps, to death.

Sumner's crime? Speaking passionately about the evils of slavery, which dishonored both the South and Brooks’s relative, Senator Andrew P. Butler. Celebrated in the South for the act, Brooks was fined only three hundred dollars, dying a year later of a throat infection. Sumner recovered and served out a distinguished Senate career until his death in 1873.

Hoffer's narrative recounts the caning and its aftermath, explores the depths of the differences between free and slave states in 1856, and explains the workings of the Southern honor culture as opposed to Yankee idealism. Hoffer helps us understand why Brooks would take such great offense at a political speech and why he chose a cane—instead of dueling with pistols or swords—to meet his obligation under the South’s prevailing code of honor. He discusses why the courts meted out a comparatively light sentence. He addresses the importance of the event in the national crisis and shows why such actions are not quite as alien to today’s politics as they might at first seem.

For the newspaper profession the problems confronted in reporting the Civil War were as catalytic as the war itself was for American society. Many of the problems encountered in reporting later wars were present in the Civil War, but they were new problems then: communications, transportation, Federal confiscation of printing presses, censorship, military personalities, and, after mid-1863, how to tell a proud people that it was losing the war.

Professor Andrews, author of The North Reports the Civil War (1955), now turns his attention to the South. He shows that Southern war reporting at its best was comparable in quality to that of the leading Northern war correspondents, that the reporting of news by the Southern press was an essential ingredient not simply of journalism but also of the Confederate propaganda effort, and that the South's newsmen contributed to the revolution of a profession, an industry, and a form of human communication.

Originally published in 1970.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

The #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe and National Geographic: acclaimed journalist Douglas Preston takes readers on a true adventure deep into the Honduran rainforest in this riveting narrative about the discovery of a lost civilization -- culminating in a stunning medical mystery.
Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.


Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.


Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.


Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.
What did Abraham Lincoln envision when he talked about "reconstruction?" Assassinated in 1865, the president did not have a chance to begin the work of reconciling the North and South, nor to oversee Reconstruction as an official postwar strategy. Yet his final speech, given to thousands gathered in the rain outside the White House on April 11, 1865, gives a clear indication of what Lincoln's postwar policy might have looked like-one that differed starkly from what would emerge in the tumultuous decade that followed. In Lincoln's Last Speech, renowned historian and author Louis P. Masur offers insight into this critical address and its vision of a reconstructed United States. Coming two days after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox and a week after the fall of Richmond, Lincoln's speech was expected to be a victory oration. Instead, he looked to the future, discussing how best to restore the seceded states to the national government, and even endorsing limited black suffrage. Delving into the language and arguments of Lincoln's last address, Masur traces the theme of reconstruction as it developed throughout his presidency, starting with the very earliest days of the war. Masur illuminates the evolution of Lincoln's thinking and the national debate around reconstruction, touching on key moments such as the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863, and Lincoln's pocket veto of the Wade-Davis bill in July 1864. He also examines social reconstruction, including the plight of freedmen and the debate over the place of blacks in society; and considers the implications of Lincoln's speech after April 1865, when Andrew Johnson assumed office and the ground was laid for the most radical phases of the postwar policy. A nuanced study of Lincoln's views on national reconciliation, this work gives us a better understanding of the failures that occurred with postwar Reconstruction and the eventual path that brought the country to reunion.
Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War. James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War--the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry--and then moves into a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic maneuvering on both sides, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson's new views on such matters as the slavery expansion issue in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union's victory. The book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both the Northern and Southern views of the conflict: the South seceded in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark of American liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war--slavery--and adopt a policy of emancipation as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes the proudest legacy of America's bloodiest conflict. This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty.
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