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Virginia at War, 1865

Virginia at War, 1865

William C. Davis
James I. Robertson
Series: Virginia at War
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Virginia at War, 1865
    Book Description:

    By January 1865, most of Virginia's schools were closed, many newspapers had ceased publication, businesses suffered, and food was scarce. Having endured major defeats on their home soil and the loss of much of the state's territory to the Union army, Virginia's Confederate soldiers began to desert at higher rates than at any other time in the war, returning home to provide their families with whatever assistance they could muster. It was a dark year for Virginia.

    Virginia at War, 1865 closely examines the end of the Civil War in the Old Dominion, delivering a striking depiction of a state ravaged by violence and destruction. In the final volume of the Virginia at War series, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. have once again assembled an impressive collection of essays covering topics that include land operations, women and families, wartime economy, music and entertainment, the demobilization of Lee's army, and the war's aftermath. The volume ends with the final installment of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire's popular and important Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War. Like the previous four volumes in the series, Virginia at War, 1865 provides valuable insights into the devastating effects of the war on citizens across the state.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3469-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Land Operations in Virginia in 1865: Time Catches Up with Lee at Last
    (pp. 1-14)
    Chris Calkins

    In Richmond on January 16, by a vote of 14–2, the Confederate Senate passed a resolution that Gen. Robert E. Lee should be appointed general in chief of the armies of the Confederacy and Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard should command the army in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, while Gen. Joseph E. Johnston returned to command of the Army of Tennessee. On February 6 Lee assumed the duties of his new position but remarked that even with the expansion of his authority, “I do not think I could accomplish any good,” adding, “If I had the ability I...

  5. “Uncertainties and alarms”: Women and Families on Virginia’s Home Front
    (pp. 15-38)
    Ginette Aley

    As he had done with so much constancy and concern throughout the war, twenty-five-year-old Confederate officer and now prisoner of war Green Berry Samuels took up his pen on March 7, 1865, to resume his connection to his wife, Kathleen, and the family hearth. He had been captured, an experience shared by more than one-quarter of all Virginia soldiers. Samuels was hopeful of a speedy exchange. In the meantime, the dullness of prison life afforded him little respite from thoughts and worries about home. In truth, he wrote Kathleen, “I sometimes foolishly make myself miserable by imagining all sorts of...

  6. “The question of bread is a very serious one”: Virginia’s Wartime Economy
    (pp. 39-56)
    Jaime Amanda Martinez

    In April 1865, Thomas S. Bocock of Appomattox County sold twenty-two barrels of corn and seventy-four bushels of wheat to his neighbor, Col. Thomas H. Flood. Rather than accept Confederate currency, Bocock allowed Flood to purchase the grains by bartering a commodity, in this case “Lydia & nine children, Martha & four & Sarah mother of Lydia and Martha.” In his memoranda book, Bocock noted that another neighbor, J. A. Carter, had “agreed to take Martha & her children & Sarah” in exchange for “fourteen barrels of corn & thirty bushels of wheat.” By May, however, perhaps angry that he had traded valuable wheat and corn...

  7. “Better to be merry than sad”: Music and Entertainment in Wartime Virginia
    (pp. 57-70)
    E. Lawrence Abel

    During the Civil War, musical entertainment was considered such an essential part of the Southern war effort that well-known entertainers were exempted from conscription until late in 1864, and salaries for entertainers were among the highest in the Confederacy.¹ Every large city in America had at least one musical director, an orchestra, and singing actors, actresses, and specialty acts. Every drama was preceded by an instrumental overture, usually from some familiar opera. Intermissions always included musical interludes, and song and dance acts were inserted in every play, with no regard for plot. After the play, audiences remained in their seats...

  8. To Danville: “A government on wheels”
    (pp. 71-84)
    F. Lawrence McFall Jr.

    An umbilical of iron rail tethered Danville to the capital of the Confederacy, 140 miles to the northeast. In 1847 the Virginia General Assembly allowed the construction of the Richmond & Danville Railroad, though it was not until 1856 that the line reached Danville, the terminus. A telegraph line ran alongside, and by 1865 both had become vital lifelines for the Confederate capital.¹ Moreover, Danville itself hosted an arsenal as well as rifle works and manufacturers of necessary accoutrements. Vacant tobacco warehouses had been converted for military use: a military hospital, a prison and, most important of all, a huge complex...

  9. “When Johnny comes marching home”: The Demobilization of Lee’s Army
    (pp. 85-102)
    Kevin Levin

    Lawrence Taliaferro’s Civil War should have ended on very familiar ground when he crossed the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg shortly after the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.¹ Instead Taliaferro, who served in the Forty-seventh Virginia Infantry, was struck by the drastic changes to the landscape. Abandoned and rusting war machinery littered the ground as well as the bones of mules and horses. The surrounding forests had been leveled to serve the needs of warring armies throughout the conflict. As Taliaferro traversed those final twelve miles to what he hoped would...

  10. “Traitors shall not dictate to us”: Afro-Virginians and the Unfinished Emancipation of 1865
    (pp. 103-132)
    Ervin L. Jordan Jr.

    Two weeks after Lee’s surrender, a Richmond newspaper reported that a committee of three slaves representing twenty-seven others politely informed their master that they were now free but would continue to work if he paid wages in Yankee greenbacks. He irately told them to go to hell and hoped they would get there soon enough. Elsewhere, Gilbert Turner, son of Nat Turner, headed north: “I have been in Hell once. Now that God is leading me out,I don’t ever mean to go back into Hell again!”¹ The races seemed in parallel hells, and some may have believed that William...

  11. “So unsettled by the war”: The Aftermath in Virginia, 1865
    (pp. 133-150)
    John M. McClure

    When the guns fell silent at Appomattox, only the military battles ended. The fight over the meaning of the Civil War had just begun. African Americans throughout the South celebrated the end of slavery, while most Southern whites bemoaned a bitter defeat. As formerly enslaved blacks, along with white Unionists, endeavored to reform the South, former Confederates not only strove to retain the remnants of antebellum political and social structures but also vehemently rejected the notion that blacks were worthy of the full rights of citizenship. The war ended slavery but produced no consensus on the status of blacks in...

  12. Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War, August 1864–May 1865
    (pp. 151-218)
    Judith Brockenbrough McGuire

    A feeling of helplessness slowly enveloped Judith McGuire in the last year of the Civil War. Her faith in God remained unbendable; her support for the Confederacy was unwavering. Yet she was powerless to stem the inexorable wave of Union might that swept slowly and destructively over her beloved Virginia.

    In the latter part of 1864, the McGuires once again had to find living quarters in Richmond. The search was long and, in the face of galloping inflation, painful. Mrs. McGuire remained steadfast to her clerical and nursing duties. But, as the war worsened, her emotions seemed to become sharper....

  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 219-230)
  14. Index
    (pp. 231-237)