Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New and Noteworthy: Armies of Deliverance--A New History of the Civil War

Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, Elizabeth Varon, Oxford University Press, 2019, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, 528 pages, illustrations, maps, $35.00

From the Publisher:
Loyal Americans marched off to war in 1861 not to conquer the South but to liberate it. So argues Elizabeth R. Varon in Armies of Deliverance, a sweeping narrative of the Civil War and a bold new interpretation of Union and Confederate war aims. Northerners imagined the war as a crusade to deliver the Southern masses from slaveholder domination and to bring democracy, prosperity, and education to the region. As the war escalated, Lincoln and his allies built the case that emancipation would secure military victory and benefit the North and South alike. The theme of deliverance was essential in mobilizing a Unionist coalition of Northerners and anti-Confederate Southerners.

Confederates, fighting to establish an independent slaveholding republic, were determined to preempt, discredit, and silence Yankee appeals to the Southern masses. In their quest for political unity Confederates relentlessly played up two themes: Northern barbarity and Southern victimization. Casting the Union army as ruthless conquerors, Confederates argued that the emancipation of blacks was synonymous with the subjugation of the white South.

Interweaving military and social history, Varon shows that everyday acts on the ground--from the flight of slaves, to protests against the draft, the plundering of civilian homes, and civilian defiance of military occupation--reverberated at the highest levels of government. Varon also offers new perspectives on major battles, illuminating how soldiers and civilians alike coped with the physical and emotional toll of the war as it grew into a massive humanitarian crisis.

The Union's politics of deliverance helped it to win the war. But such appeals failed to convince Confederates to accept peace on the victor's terms, ultimately sowing the seeds of postwar discord.

  • A comprehensive single-volume history of the Civil War based on fresh research, written by an eminent senior scholar of the conflict
  • Integrates battlefront and home front, and the stories of politicians, soldiers, and civilians, white and black
  • Offers a new perspective on debates and divisions within the Union and Confederacy
  • Argues that hard war tactics and soft war appeals were present throughout the war and were harmonized by the idea of "deliverance."

Armies of Deliverance offers innovative insights on the conflict for those steeped in Civil War history and novices alike.

Table of Contents: 

Introduction: "We Are Fighting for Them"
Part I: Loyalism
Ch 1. March of Redemption: From Bull Run to Fort Donelson
Ch 2. Ripe for the Harvest: To Shiloh
Ch 3. Sacred Soil: Virginia in the Summer of 1862
Ch 4. The Perils of Occupation
Part II: Emancipation
Ch 5. Countdown to Jubilee: Lincoln's Hundred Days
Ch 6. The Emancipation Proclamation
Ch 7. Fire in the Rear: To Chancellorsville
Ch 8. Under a Scorching Sun: The Summer of 1863
Part III: Amnesty
Ch 9. Rallying Point: Lincoln's Ten Percent Plan, December 1863
Ch 10. Is This Hell? Fort Pillow to Atlanta
Ch 11. Campaign Season: The Election of 1864
Ch 12. Malice Toward None: The Union Triumphant
Epilogue: "Behold Him Now the Pharaoh": Andrew Johnson and the Legacy of the Civil War

About the author:  Elizabeth R. Varon is Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia. She is the author of numerous award-winning books, including Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (OUP, 2003), Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (OUP, 2013).

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