by Woodworth, Steven E.
The American Civil War was primarily a conflict of cultures, and slavery was the largest single cultural factor separating North and South. This collection of carefully selected memoirs, diaries, letters, and reminiscences of ordinary Northerners and Southerners who experienced the war as soldiers or civilians brings to life the conflict in culture, principles, attitudes, hopes, courage, and suffering of both sides. Woodworth, a Civil War historian, has selected a wide variety of moving first person accounts, each of which tells a story of a life as well as the attitudes of ordinary people and the real conditions of war and homefront. Woodworth presents the war in the words of those who lived it.
Contrasting selections will help the reader to see the war through the eyes of Northerners and Southerners as: soldiers prepare for war; women's lives change after the men go to war; soldiers on both sides experience the difficulties of camp life; sweethearts (the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln and her Confederate fiancé) exchange heartfelt letters; a husband's letters and his wife's diary recount their love, his death in battle, and her deep loss, countered by her faith; soldiers and civilians recount the carnage of the war's devastating battles; and people on both sides reflect on the outcome of the war and its consequences to their way of life. The accounts contrast the writers' attitudes toward Northern and Southern society, the principles for which those societies stood, and the religious significance of the war. These accounts and the narrative discussion of the difference in culture will help readers to understand the Civil War as a conflict of cultures. Telling the story of the war as personal history makes the experience of the Civil War come alive for readers.
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