Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Gen. Grant's Fifth Offensive in the Petersburg/Richmond Campaign has long been a fascinating subject to me, so whenever I come across a book discussing some aspect of these movements I'm interested to hear the author's take. Initially successful, the Union assaults north of the James River, which were directed by Gen. Benjamin Butler, stalled out with stiffer resistance after capturing Confederate works at New Market Heights and Fort Harrison. 

Since reading John Hope Franklin's The Militant South, 1800-1861, by John Hope Franklin, way back in graduate school; as well as doing a significant research project at the same time on North Carolinian Henry King Burgwyn, who tried to get into West Point but landed at the Virginia Military Institute before eventually becoming the colonel of the 26th North Carolina, the ideal situation of a military-based education and its importance to Southerners has intrigued me. 

In an era of politicians who drew and threw fire with their words, few were as caustic and expressed a self confidence as John Randolph of Roanoke. Randolph spent several terms as a U.S. congressman and part of a term as a Senator from a Southside Virginia district. Randolph famously exclaimed, "I am an aristocrat. I love liberty and hate equality." John Randolph's formative years and education had a significant impact on what type of man he came to be and projected in his public service. This book gets into John Randolph the private man, tortured by ill health and troubled relationships.

This slim volume attempts to briefly detail Lincoln's initially tentative thinking on the use of African Americans as soldiers in the Union army, to his evolved position on potentially extending citizenship and even voting rights to those who served as fighting men in effort to preserve the Union; and with the Emancipation Proclamation, the additional war aim of ending slavery.

The concept of nationalism was one that the Confederacy had to embrace with the formation of its government after eleven slave states seceded. However Confederate nationalism seemingly did not end with the end of the Confederacy. It survived through the war, through Reconstruction, and lives on in many people's thinking into the twenty-first century.

Many ethnic groups participated in the Civil War, both for the Union and for the Confederacy. Many served to prove their right to the full fruits of citizenship. This book contains essays that discuss the experiences of Germans, Irish, Jews, Native Americans, and African Americans. Without these groups' participation, the Civil War would have been a much different war. I am certainly looking forward to learning a lot from these fascinating essays.

No comments:

Post a Comment