The War On The Battlefield

1726 Words7 Pages
Wars aren’t fought in a vacuum, and those who study the Civil War should know this. While the Confederacy lost the war on the battlefield, a failure to exam the social and political climate before the first shot fired on Fort Sumter and the furling of the CSS Shenandoah’s Confederate Navy Ensign— the war’s final surrender— does not capture the war’s impact on the nation. Certainly, one can’t discuss a war and never mention a battle. The field’s foundation is in traditional military history, but I feel more comfortable discussing social history topics. When I began the semester, I felt I was staunchly in the social history camp. I wanted nothing to do with regiments, charges, and invasion routes. When I wrote the first paper on this same…show more content…
The process of defining what kind of Civil War historian that you are is a fluid process that needs to reevaluated as you become exposed to more information. The first book we read this semester was Paul Quigley’s Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-1865. Quigley’s work focuses primarily on the formation of Southern nationalism during the complex years before secession and Fort Sumter. Only the final chapters examines the years 1861-1865. I appreciated Quigley’s framing of Southern nationalism within an international context. This goes against the southern exceptionalism trend that tends to permeates any study of the American South. Quigley’s assertion the nationalism was a cause rather than an effect of succession is correct in my estimation. However, if the book is going to be considered a work about the Civil War, more than one chapter of it should deal with the ebb and flow of nationalism during the war itself. As a historian, I feel that establishing the origins of Confederate nationalism is an important part of understanding the Confederate war effort on the battlefield and on the home front, but as a historian, I’d like to see it evaluated more thoroughly during the War itself (Quigley). The second work our class read this semester was literature scholar Randall Fuller’s From Battlefields Rising. Fuller attempted to exam the manner in which Civil War changed the view of America’s
Open Document