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The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion

The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion

by Peter S. Carmichael
The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion

The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion

by Peter S. Carmichael


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Challenging the popular conception of Southern youth on the eve of the Civil War as intellectually lazy, violent, and dissipated, Peter S. Carmichael looks closely at the lives of more than one hundred young white men from Virginia's last generation to grow up with the institution of slavery. He finds them deeply engaged in the political, economic, and cultural forces of their time. Age, he concludes, created special concerns for young men who spent their formative years in the 1850s.

Before the Civil War, these young men thought long and hard about Virginia's place as a progressive slave society. They vigorously lobbied for disunion despite opposition from their elders, then served as officers in the Army of Northern Virginia as frontline negotiators with the nonslaveholding rank and file. After the war, however, they quickly shed their Confederate radicalism to pursue the political goals of home rule and New South economic development and reconciliation. Not until the turn of the century, when these men were nearing the ends of their lives, did the mythmaking and storytelling begin, and members of the last generation recast themselves once more as unreconstructed Rebels.

By examining the lives of members of this generation on personal as well as generational and cultural levels, Carmichael sheds new light on the formation and reformation of Southern identity during the turbulent last half of the nineteenth century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469625898
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 12/01/2015
Series: Civil War America
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 360
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Peter S. Carmichael is Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College and Director of the Civil War Institute. His books include Lee's Young Artillerist: William R. J. Pegram and Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee.

Table of Contents


1. Progressives All
2. United by a Problem
3. Christian Gentlemen
4. Defenders of Virginia, Union, and the South
5. Eager Confederates
6. Paternalistic Officers
7. Christian Martyrs
8. From Conservative Unionism to Old Fogydom


Lancelot Minor Blackford
Leisure and Labor, by Francis Blackwell Mayer
Henry Clay Pate
Jubal Anderson Early
High Bridge, Farmville, Virginia
James DeWitt Hankins
Letter from George Washington Nelson to Carter Nelson Minor
University of Virginia campus
Virginia University Magazine
J. E. B. Stuart, George Washington Custis Lee, and Stephen D. Lee
Thomas Jefferson's grave at Monticello
Reprint of excerpt from the Yale Literary Magazine
John H. Chamberlayne
Members of the Southern Guard, University of Virginia
George Junkin
Virginia Military Institute barracks
Greenlee Davidson
Military discipline
Sketches of the Life of Captain Hugh A. White
Walter Taylor
Elizabeth S. "Bettie" Saunders

Virginia Military Institute cadets in Richmond
William R. J. Pegram
Alexander "Sandie" Pendleton
Army of Northern Virginia prayer meeting
John Warwick Daniel
1877 Gettysburg reunion


Counties and Regions of Virginia, 1860

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This superb book tells a new story of the coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War, revealing generational dimensions we have never seen before. Carmichael's remarkable research, subtle touch, and clear-eyed interpretation are gifts to everyone interested in understanding the war's larger meanings.—Edward L. Ayers, University of Virginia

The hypothesis that there was a strong generational component to the secessionist movement appears frequently in the historiography, and yet no scholar, until Carmichael, has tried to systematically evaluate it. The most important contribution of this provocative book is the way the author uses the 'last generation' to demonstrate that the credo of Southern rights had varied meanings in the South.—Elizabeth R. Varon, Temple University

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