Even one hundred and fifty years later, we are haunted by the Civil Warby its division, its bloodshed, and perhaps, above all, by its origins. Today, many believe that the war was fought over slavery. This answer satisfies our contemporary sense of justice, but as Gary Gallagher shows in this brilliant revisionist history, it is an anachronistic judgment.
In a searing analysis of the Civil War North as revealed in contemporary letters, diaries, and documents, Gallagher demonstrates that what motivated the North to go to war and persist in an increasingly bloody effort was primarily preservation of the Union. Devotion to the Union bonded nineteenth-century Americans in the North and West against a slaveholding aristocracy in the South and a Europe that seemed destined for oligarchy. Northerners believed they were fighting to save the republic, and with it the world’s best hope for democracy.
Once we understand the centrality of union, we can in turn appreciate the force that made northern victory possible: the citizen-soldier. Gallagher reveals how the massive volunteer army of the North fought to confirm American exceptionalism by salvaging the Union. Contemporary concerns have distorted the reality of nineteenth-century Americans, who embraced emancipation primarily to punish secessionists and remove slavery as a future threat to uniongoals that emerged in the process of war. As Gallagher recovers why and how the Civil War was fought, we gain a more honest understanding of why and how it was won.
Gary W. Gallagher is John L. Nau III Professor of History at the University of Virginia.
Table of Contents
1 The Grand Review 7
2 Union 33
3 Emancipation 75
4 The Armies 119
5 Affirmation 151
What People are Saying About This
James M. McPherson
Gary Gallagher, more carefully and precisely than anyone else, enables the reader to understand why so many citizen soldiers were willing to peril their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to preserve the United States as one nation, indivisible and, in Lincoln's words at Gettysburg, to give the "new nation" brought forth in 1776 a "new birth of freedom" in 1863.
James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
Joseph T. Glatthaar
Gary Gallagher has written another gem in The Union War. A companion to his brilliant and controversial The Confederate War, this slender volume is sure to generate wide readership and debate. Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of General Lee's Army: From Victory to Defeat
From the Publisher
"Brimming with insights, eloquent in argument, and filled with new evidence from the men who fought for the Union, this revisionist history will cause readers to rethink many of the now-standard Civil War interpretations. An essential work." -Library Journal Starred Review
A rare volume that forces us to reconsider how we think about the Civil War. Examining historic actors in the context of their own time and place, Gallagher reminds of the centrality of "Union" as the motivating force driving the Northern cause, and the significance of those citizen-soldiers who joined the Union Army in determining the results.
Matthew Gallman, author of Northerners at War: Reflections on the Civil War Home Front
George C. Rable
The Union Warreaffirms Gary Gallagher's reputation as one of the most astute and provocative writers on the American Civil War. This work places the Union at the heart of the war but also argues for the central role of armies and soldiers in understanding how the goals of reunion and emancipation were finally realized. With clarity and verve, Gallagher deals with large questions in an unfailingly profound way. George C. Rable, author of God's Almost Chosen Peoples
Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, a century after
the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King, Jr., declared, “One hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.” He delivered this speech ...
Idealization is a fundamental feature of human thought. We build simplified models in our scientific
research and utopias in our political imaginations. Concepts like belief, desire, reason, and justice are bound up with idealizations and ideals. Life is a constant ...
From its earliest days as a royal settlement fronting the pyramids of Giza to its
current manifestation as the largest metropolis in Africa, Cairo has forever captured the urban pulse of the Middle East. In Cairo: Histories of a City, ...
Frequent reports of honor killings, disfigurement, and sensational abuse have given rise to a consensus
in the West, a message propagated by human rights groups and the media: Muslim women need to be rescued. Lila Abu-Lughod boldly challenges this conclusion. ...
Ernest Hemingway was a mythic figure of overt masculinity and vibrant literary genius. He lived
life on an epic scale, presenting to the world a character as compelling as the fiction he created. But behind it all lurked an insecure, ...
The United States has two separate banking systems todayone serving the well-to-do and another exploiting
everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa ...
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ushered in a period of democratization and
market reform extending across the East-Central European region, with one important exception: Belarus. Ironically, Belarus's fledgling attempts at democracy produced a leader who has suspended ...
Published in the bicentennial year of Samuel Johnson’s death, Johnson and His Age includes contributions
by some of the nation’s most eminent scholars of eighteenth-century literature. A section on Johnson’s life and thought presents fresh analyses of Johnson’s friendships with ...