Nothing is good about the Corona Pandemic except that Project Muse is making hundreds of books about the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras free online. The entire catalog of the University of North Carolina Press is available as free downloads. You can find the list of free books from UNC Press here. These include some classics on the Civil War. Today, instead of linking to the old war horses in the catalog, I will let you know about some of the brand new books available for free. One of the free books is Kevin Levin’s hot Searching for Black Confederates.
I am including the title and publication date, a link to the free download, and a description of the book supplied by UNC press. If you have never downloaded from Project Muse, I provide an easy explanation of how to do so at the bottom of this list. that are also being offered that you might want to check out.
An Environmental History of the Civil War by Judkin Browning (2020)
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Series: Civil War America
This sweeping new history recognizes that the Civil War was not just a military conflict but also a moment of profound transformation in Americans’ relationship to the natural world. To be sure, environmental factors such as topography and weather powerfully shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns, and the war could not have been fought without the horses, cattle, and other animals that were essential to both armies. But here Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver weave a far richer story, combining military and environmental history to forge a comprehensive new narrative of the war’s significance and impact. As they reveal, the conflict created a new disease environment by fostering the spread of microbes among vulnerable soldiers, civilians, and animals; led to large-scale modifications of the landscape across several states; sparked new thinking about the human relationship to the natural world; and demanded a reckoning with disability and death on an ecological scale. And as the guns fell silent, the change continued; Browning and Silver show how the war influenced the future of weather forecasting, veterinary medicine, the birth of the conservation movement, and the establishment of the first national parks.
Arguing until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy by Michael E. Woods (2020) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Series: Civil War America
As the sectional crisis gripped the United States, the rancor increasingly spread to the halls of Congress. Preston Brooks’s frenzied assault on Charles Sumner was perhaps the most notorious evidence of the dangerous divide between proslavery Democrats and the new antislavery Republican Party. But as disunion loomed, rifts within the majority Democratic Party were every bit as consequential. And nowhere was the fracture more apparent than in the raging debates between Illinois’s Stephen Douglas and Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis. As leaders of the Democrats’ northern and southern factions before the Civil War, their passionate conflict of words and ideas has been overshadowed by their opposition to Abraham Lincoln. But here, weaving together biography and political history, Michael E. Woods restores Davis and Douglas’s fatefully entwined lives and careers to the center of the Civil War era.
Operating on personal, partisan, and national levels, Woods traces the deep roots of Democrats’ internal strife, with fault lines drawn around fundamental questions of property rights and majority rule.
Men Is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America by Brian P. Luskey (2020) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
When a Civil War substitute broker told business associates that “Men is cheep here to Day,” he exposed an unsettling contradiction at the heart of the Union’s war effort. Despite Northerners’ devotion to the principles of free labor, the war produced rampant speculation and coercive labor arrangements that many Americans labeled fraudulent. Debates about this contradiction focused on employment agencies called “intelligence offices,” institutions of dubious character that nevertheless served the military and domestic necessities of the Union army and Northern households. Northerners condemned labor agents for pocketing fees above and beyond contracts for wages between employers and employees. Yet the transactions these middlemen brokered with vulnerable Irish immigrants, Union soldiers and veterans, former slaves, and Confederate deserters defined the limits of independence in the wage labor economy and clarified who could prosper in it.
Men Is Cheap shows that in the process of winning the war, Northerners were forced to grapple with the frauds of free labor.
A Republic in the Ranks: Loyalty and Dissent in the Army of the Potomac by Zachery A. Fry (2020) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
The Army of the Potomac was a hotbed of political activity during the Civil War. As a source of dissent widely understood as a frustration for Abraham Lincoln, its onetime commander, George B. McClellan, even secured the Democratic nomination for president in 1864. But in this comprehensive reassessment of the army’s politics, Zachery A. Fry argues that the war was an intense political education for its common soldiers. Fry examines several key crisis points to show how enlisted men developed political awareness that went beyond personal loyalties. By studying the struggle between Republicans and Democrats for political allegiance among the army’s rank and file, Fry reveals how captains, majors, and colonels spurred a pro-Republican political awakening among the enlisted men, culminating in the army’s resounding Republican voice in state and national elections in 1864.
Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America by Thomas J. Brown (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
This sweeping new assessment of Civil War monuments unveiled in the United States between the 1860s and 1930s argues that they were pivotal to a national embrace of military values. Americans’ wariness of standing armies limited construction of war memorials in the early republic, Thomas J. Brown explains, and continued to influence commemoration after the Civil War. As large cities and small towns across the North and South installed an astonishing range of statues, memorial halls, and other sculptural and architectural tributes to Civil War heroes, communities debated the relationship of military service to civilian life through fund-raising campaigns, artistic designs, oratory, and ceremonial practices. Brown shows that distrust of standing armies gave way to broader enthusiasm for soldiers in the Gilded Age. Some important projects challenged the trend, but many Civil War monuments proposed new norms of discipline and vigor that lifted veterans to a favored political status and modeled racial and class hierarchies. A half century of Civil War commemoration reshaped remembrance of the American Revolution and guided American responses to World War I.
The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic by Gregory P. Downs (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Much of the confusion about a central event in United States history begins with the name: the Civil War. In reality, the Civil War was not merely civil–meaning national–and not merely a war, but instead an international conflict of ideas as well as armies. Its implications transformed the U.S. Constitution and reshaped a world order, as political and economic systems grounded in slavery and empire clashed with the democratic process of republican forms of government. And it spilled over national boundaries, tying the United States together with Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Britain, and France in a struggle over the future of slavery and of republics.
Here Gregory P. Downs argues that we can see the Civil War anew by understanding it as a revolution. More than a fight to preserve the Union and end slavery, the conflict refashioned a nation, in part by remaking its Constitution. More than a struggle of brother against brother, it entailed remaking an Atlantic world that centered in surprising ways on Cuba and Spain.
Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana by Sophie White (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
In eighteenth-century New Orleans, the legal testimony of some 150 enslaved women and men–like the testimony of free colonists–was meticulously recorded and preserved. Questioned in criminal trials as defendants, victims, and witnesses about attacks, murders, robberies, and escapes, they answered with stories about themselves, stories that rebutted the premise on which slavery was founded.
Focusing on four especially dramatic court cases, Voices of the Enslaved draws us into Louisiana’s courtrooms, prisons, courtyards, plantations, bayous, and convents to understand how the enslaved viewed and experienced their worlds. As they testified, these individuals charted their movement between West African, indigenous, and colonial cultures; they pronounced their moral and religious values; and they registered their responses to labor, to violence, and, above all, to the intimate romantic and familial bonds they sought to create and protect.
Engines of Redemption: Railroads and the Reconstruction of Capitalism in the New South by R. Scott Huffard Jr. (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
After the upheavals of the Civil War and Reconstruction shattered the plantation economy of the Old South, white southerners turned to the railroad to reconstruct capitalism in the region. Examining the rapid growth, systemization, and consolidation of the southern railroad network, R. Scott Huffard Jr. demonstrates how economic and political elites used the symbolic power of the railroad to proclaim a New South had risen. The railroad was more than just an economic engine of growth; it was a powerful symbol of capitalism’s advance.
However, as the railroad spread across the region, it also introduced new dangers and anxieties. White southerners came to fear the railroad would speed an upending of the racial order, epidemics of yellow fever, train wrecks, violent robberies, and domination by corporate monopolies. To complete the reconstruction of capitalism, railroad corporations and their allies had to sever the negative aspects of railroading from capitalism’s powers and deny the railroad’s transformative powers to black southerners.
Living by Inches: The Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feeling of Captivity in Civil War Prisons by Evan A. Kutzler (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
From battlefields, boxcars, and forgotten warehouses to notorious prison camps like Andersonville and Elmira, prisoners seemed to be everywhere during the American Civil War. Yet there is much we do not know about the soldiers and civilians whose very lives were in the hands of their enemies. Living by Inches is the first book to examine how imprisoned men in the Civil War perceived captivity through the basic building blocks of human experience–their five senses. From the first whiffs of a prison warehouse to the taste of cornbread and the feeling of lice, captivity assaulted prisoners’ perceptions of their environments and themselves. Evan A. Kutzler demonstrates that the sensory experience of imprisonment produced an inner struggle for men who sought to preserve their bodies, their minds, and their sense of self as distinct from the fundamentally uncivilized and filthy environments surrounding them. From the mundane to the horrific, these men survived the daily experiences of captivity by adjusting to their circumstances, even if these transformations worried prisoners about what type of men they were becoming.
The Women’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation by Thavolia Glymph (2020) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Historians of the Civil War often speak of “wars within a war–the military fight, wartime struggles on the home front, and the political and moral battle to preserve the Union and end slavery. In this broadly conceived book, Thavolia Glymph provides a comprehensive new history of women’s roles and lives in the Civil War–North and South, white and black, slave and free–showing how women were essentially and fully engaged in all three arenas. Glymph focuses on the ideas and ideologies that drove women’s actions, allegiances, and politics. We encounter women as they stood their ground, moved into each other’s territory, sought and found common ground, and fought for vastly different principles. Some women used all the tools and powers they could muster to prevent the radical transformations the war increasingly imposed, some fought with equal might for the same transformations, and other women fought simply to keep the war at bay as they waited for their husbands and sons to return home.
Standard-Bearers of Equality: America’s First Abolition Movement by Paul J. Polgar (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Paul Polgar recovers the racially inclusive vision of America’s first abolition movement. In showcasing the activities of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the New York Manumission Society, and their African American allies during the post-Revolutionary and early national eras, he unearths this coalition’s comprehensive agenda for black freedom and equality. By guarding and expanding the rights of people of African descent and demonstrating that black Americans could become virtuous citizens of the new Republic, these activists, whom Polgar names “first movement abolitionists,” sought to end white prejudice and eliminate racial inequality. Beginning in the 1820s, however, colonization threatened to eclipse this racially inclusive movement. Colonizationists claimed that what they saw as permanent black inferiority and unconquerable white prejudice meant that slavery could end only if those freed were exiled from the United States. In pulling many reformers into their orbit, this radically different antislavery movement marginalized the activism of America’s first abolitionists and obscured the racially progressive origins of American abolitionism that Polgar now recaptures.
Rebel Richmond: Life and Death in the Confederate Capital by Stephen V. Ash (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
In the spring of 1861, Richmond, Virginia, suddenly became the capital city, military headquarters, and industrial engine of a new nation fighting for its existence. A remarkable drama unfolded in the months that followed. The city’s population exploded, its economy was deranged, and its government and citizenry clashed desperately over resources to meet daily needs while a mighty enemy army laid siege. Journalists, officials, and everyday residents recorded these events in great detail, and the Confederacy’s foes and friends watched closely from across the continent and around the world.
In Rebel Richmond, Stephen V. Ash vividly evokes life in Richmond as war consumed the Confederate capital. He guides readers from the city’s alleys, homes, and shops to its churches, factories, and halls of power, uncovering the intimate daily drama of a city transformed and ultimately destroyed by war. Drawing on the stories and experiences of civilians and soldiers, slaves and masters, refugees and prisoners, merchants and laborers, preachers and prostitutes, the sick and the wounded, Ash delivers a captivating new narrative of the Civil War’s impact on a city and its people.
Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth by Kevin M. Levin (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, scores of websites, articles, and organizations repeat claims that anywhere between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans fought willingly as soldiers in the Confederate army. But as Kevin M. Levin argues in this carefully researched book, such claims would have shocked anyone who served in the army during the war itself. Levin explains that imprecise contemporary accounts, poorly understood primary-source material, and other misrepresentations helped fuel the rise of the black Confederate myth. Moreover, Levin shows that belief in the existence of black Confederate soldiers largely originated in the 1970s, a period that witnessed both a significant shift in how Americans remembered the Civil War and a rising backlash against African Americans’ gains in civil rights and other realms.
Levin also investigates the roles that African Americans actually performed in the Confederate army, including personal body servants and forced laborers.
Caribbean New Orleans: Empire, Race, and the Making of a Slave Society by Cécile Vidal (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Combining Atlantic and imperial perspectives, Caribbean New Orleans offers a lively portrait of the city and a probing investigation of the French colonists who established racial slavery there as well as the African slaves who were forced to toil for them. Casting early New Orleans as a Caribbean outpost of the French Empire rather than as a North American frontier town, Cecile Vidal reveals the persistent influence of the Antilles, especially Saint-Domingue, which shaped the city’s development through the eighteenth century. In so doing, she urges us to rethink our usual divisions of racial systems into mainland and Caribbean categories.
Drawing on New Orleans’s rich court records as a way to capture the words and actions of its inhabitants, Vidal takes us into the city’s streets, market, taverns, church, hospitals, barracks, and households.
Conquered: Why the Army of Tennessee Failed by Larry J. Daniel (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Operating in the vast and varied trans-Appalachian west, the Army of Tennessee was crucially important to the military fate of the Confederacy. But under the principal leadership of generals such as Braxton Bragg, Joseph E. Johnston, and John Bell Hood, it won few major battles, and many regard its inability to halt steady Union advances into the Confederate heartland as a matter of failed leadership. Here, esteemed military historian Larry J. Daniel offers a far richer interpretation. Surpassing previous work that has focused on questions of command structure and the force’s fate on the fields of battle, Daniel provides the clearest view to date of the army’s inner workings, from top-level command and unit cohesion to the varied experiences of common soldiers and their connections to the home front. Drawing from his mastery of the relevant sources, Daniel’s book is a thought-provoking reassessment of an army’s fate, with important implications for Civil War history and military history writ large.
Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War by David Silkenat (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
The American Civil War began with a laying down of arms by Union troops at Fort Sumter, and it ended with a series of surrenders, most famously at Appomattox Courthouse. But in the intervening four years, both Union and Confederate forces surrendered en masse on scores of other occasions. Indeed, roughly one out of every four soldiers surrendered at some point during the conflict. In no other American war did surrender happen so frequently.
David Silkenat here provides the first comprehensive study of Civil War surrender, focusing on the conflicting social, political, and cultural meanings of the action. Looking at the conflict from the perspective of men who surrendered, Silkenat creates new avenues to understand prisoners of war, fighting by Confederate guerrillas, the role of southern Unionists, and the experiences of African American soldiers.
Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians by Gary W. Gallagher (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Much has been written about place and Civil War memory, but how do we personally remember and commemorate this part of our collective past? How do battlefields and other historic places help us understand our own history? What kinds of places are worth remembering and why? In this collection of essays, some of the most esteemed historians of the Civil War select a single meaningful place related to the war and narrate its significance. Included here are meditations on a wide assortment of places–Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, the statue of William T. Sherman in New York’s Central Park, Burnside Bridge at Antietam, the McLean House in Appomattox, and more. Paired with a contemporary photograph commissioned specifically for this book, each essay offers an unusual and accessible glimpse into how historians think about their subjects.
Slave No More: Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas by Aline Helg (2019) Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Commanding a vast historiography of slavery and emancipation, Aline Helg reveals as never before how significant numbers of enslaved Africans across the entire Western Hemisphere managed to free themselves hundreds of years before the formation of white-run abolitionist movements. Her sweeping view of resistance and struggle covers more than three centuries, from early colonization to the American and Haitian revolutions, Spanish American independence, and abolition in the British Caribbean. Helg not only underscores the agency of those who managed to become “free people of color” before abolitionism took hold but also assesses in detail the specific strategies they created and utilized.
While recognizing the powerful forces supporting slavery, Helg articulates four primary liberation strategies: flight and marronage; manumission by legal document; military service, for men, in exchange for promised emancipation;
Using the Free Books:
If you follow the links to the free books you will see something like this:
Beneath the description of the book you will see “Table of Contents.”
Each chapter is a separate download. You click on the download and you can read the chapter online. You can also save the download onto your device. Ignore the “Save” button on the Project Muse page, though, it saves the chapter to your Muse cloud, which you probably don’t have.
Good luck and I will be back with more free books tomorrow.
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