Defining Duty In The Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Cuture and the Union Home Front, J. Matthew Gallman, University of North Carolina Press, profuse illustrated with black and white illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index, 330 pages, $45.00
From the Publisher: The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two competing
societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict. Concerned
Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how to be good
citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought hundreds of
They read novels, short stories, poems, songs, editorials,
and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons and satirical essays.
Their spirits were stirred in response to recruiting broadsides and
patriotic envelopes. This massive cultural outpouring offered a path for
ordinary Americans casting around for direction.
breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew Gallman offers a
dramatic reconsideration of how the Union's civilians understood the
meaning of duty and citizenship in wartime. Although a huge percentage
of military-aged men served in the Union army, a larger group chose to
stay home, even while they supported the war.
This path breaking study
investigates how men and women, both white and black, understood their
roles in the People's Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and
angry stereotypes ridiculing the nation's cowards, crooks, and fools,
while wrestling with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman
shows how thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a
new set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.