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Maryland Voices of the Civil War

Hardback
, 568 pages

41 halftones, 52 line drawings

ISBN:
9780801886218
June 2007
$38.00

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Maryland Voices of the Civil War

Winner, 2007-2008 Founders Award. The Museum of the Confederacy

The most contentious event in our nation’s history, the Civil War deeply divided families, friends, and communities. Both sides fought to define the conflict on their own terms—Lincoln and his supporters struggled to preserve the Union and end slavery, while the Confederacy waged a battle for the primacy of local liberty or "states' rights." But the war had its own peculiar effects on the four border slave states that remained loyal to the Union. Internal disputes and shifting allegiances injected uncertainty, apprehension, and violence into the everyday lives of their citizens.

No state better exemplified the vital role of a border state than Maryland—where the passage of time has not dampened debates over issues such as the alleged right of secession and executive power versus civil liberties in wartime. In Maryland Voices of the Civil War, Charles W. Mitchell draws upon hundreds of letters, diaries, and period newspapers—many previously unpublished—to portray the passions of a wide variety of people—merchants, slaves, soldiers, politicians, freedmen, women, clergy, slave owners, civic leaders, and children—caught in the emotional vise of war. Mitchell tells the compelling story of how Maryland African Americans escaped from slavery and fought for the Union and their freedom alongside white soldiers and he reinforces the provocative notion that Maryland’s Southern sympathies—while genuine—never seriously threatened to bring about a Confederate Maryland.

Maryland Voices of the Civil War illuminates the human complexities of the Civil War era and the political realignment that enabled Marylanders to abolish slavery in their state before the end of the war.

Charles W. Mitchell, a Marylander by birth and by choice, is a writer descended from a congressman, a pirate, and two Confederate officers who appear in the pages of this book. The ancestors of his wife, Betsy, include eleven Union soldiers, Pennsylvanians all. Charley and Betsy, and their two children, Abbie and Alec, live in Lutherville, Maryland.

"Mitchell's remarkable new book lets us listen and understand how the great war was fought to save the union, this state and our national soul."

"Using excerpts from personal correspondence, journals, and newspapers from that period, Mitchell frames the issues (states' rights, slavery, secession) and the state's role in the conflict in both political and personal terms. There's plenty of bravado from the warriors, but Mitchell also does an excellent job including the voices of people who are simply snagged by the war... giving it more diversity and range."

"A generously illustrated history of Maryland during the Civil War using documents from the time... Mitchell records gore for purpose and with meaning."

"Both fascinating and illuminating... Maryland Voices of the Civil War belongs not only in libraries and schools, but also on the bookshelves of everyone interested in this state or that era."

"Unlike other Civil War books, Voices focuses on the civilians that left behind written documentation about their experiences."

"The voices of Maryland flow freely off the pages of this work... This is not just a book for Maryland. It is a work that belongs in all academic institutions' Civil War collections. Highly recommended."

"A model of this genre... highly recommended for its masterful presentation of primary sources... Maryland Voices of the Civil War deserves to be in the library of anyone interested in mid-19th century American history."

" Maryland Voices is even better than I expected it to be, which makes it better than fine. It is by far the best book we have on Civil War Maryland and a triumphant proof that Mitchell's documentary approach is just right. Of course some will still say that Maryland 'almost' seceded, but he has left them no way to say it. Mitchell is also superb on that neglected subject, blacks' agency in ensuring that secesh and slavery itself had no shot at enduring."

"Although Maryland remained in the Union, the state was riven by divided loyalties during the Civil War. Maryland soldiers fought on both sides and the state experienced internal upheavals, occupation by Union soldiers, and invasions by Confederate armies. This book presents the words of white and black Maylanders of all conditions and persuasions in a mosaic of voices that captures the contentions and confusions of this experience."

"A perfect gift for Civil War buffs... extensive and meticulously researched... powerful, rich in diversity, and evocative of the 'fog of war,' these Maryland voices should not be ignored."

"A handsomely designed book, the author tells the story of the divisions that kept Marylanders in contention with one another during the Civil War."

"This book would be of special interest to those interested in African American history or genealogy; anyone seeking data on those border states which were so deeply conflicted by the war; and those whose forebears were resident in Maryland in the years immediately preceding, during and after the Civil War. It is well-written, and would add detail to any research conducted on the period."

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