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Virginia at War, 1863

Virginia at War, 1863

William C. Davis
James I. Robertson
Series: Virginia at War
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Virginia at War, 1863
    Book Description:

    Between the epic battles of 1862 and the grueling and violent military campaigns that would follow, the year 1863 was oddly quiet for the Confederate state of Virginia. Only one major battle was fought on its soil, at Chancellorsville, and the conflict was one of the Army of Northern Virginia's greatest victories. Yet the pressures of the Civil War turned the daily lives of Virginians -- young and old, men and women, civilians and soldiers -- into battles of their own. Despite minimal combat, 1863 was an eventful year in Virginia history -- Stonewall Jackson died within its borders and Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In Virginia at War, 1863, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. present these and other key events, as well as a discussion of the year's military land operations to reveal the political, social, and cultural ramifications of the ongoing national conflict. By this time, the war had profoundly transformed nearly every aspect of Virginia life and culture, from education to religion to commerce. Mounting casualties and depleted resources made the citizens of the Commonwealth feel the deprivations of war more deeply than ever. Virginia at War, 1863 surveys these often overlooked elements of the conflict. Contributors focus on the war's impact on Virginia's children and its newly freed slaves. They shed light on the origins of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, explore the popularity of scrapbooking as a form of personal recordkeeping, and consider the changing role of religion during wartime and the uncertain faith of Virginia's Christians. The book concludes with the 1863 entries of the Diary of a Southern Refugee by Richmond's Judith Brockenbrough McGuire. At the midpoint of the Civil War, the hostility of this great American struggle had become an ingrained part of Virginia life. Virginia at War, 1863 is the third volume of a five-book series that reexamines the Commonwealth's history as an integral part of the Confederacy. The series looks beyond military campaigns and tactics to consider how the war forever changed the people, culture, and society of Virginia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7309-2
    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-xiv)
  4. Land Operations in Virginia in 1863: High-water Mark and Beginning of the Ebb
    (pp. 1-18)
    A. Wilson Greene

    The Union army of the Potomac awakened on New Year’s Day 1863 in a bad mood. Their cheerless, mud-soaked camps in southern Stafford County contributed to their foul humor, but memories of December’s fiasco at Fredericksburg explained most of their discontent. “The recent battle was only a murder, for which [army commander] . . . A. E. Burnside [is] responsible,” wrote one Michigan survivor of the slaughter on the far side of the Rappahannock. South of the river, the Army of Northern Virginia basked in the praise of its beloved commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who had just the night...

  5. Days of Misery and Uncertainty: Childhood in Wartime Virginia
    (pp. 19-34)
    James Marten

    In early 1863 ten-year-old John Steele and his twelve-year-old sister Sarah began keeping a joint diary of daily life in the no-man’s-land between the Union and Confederate forces in northern Virginia. Their brief entries, which they kept up through Christmas, reveal the mundane events and terrible trials many Virginia children experienced in the war’s middle year.

    John and Sarah wrote sparingly of their young lives, despite family tragedies—the deaths of their father and little sister, for instance—mostly chronicling their household chores. But the war inevitably intervened, and the terse entries also reported the comings and goings of Union...

  6. “A gift from God”: Missionary Teachers and Freedpeople in Southeastern Virginia
    (pp. 35-54)
    Benjamin H. Trask

    Jane Pyatt of Portsmouth recalled in an interview: “When I was growing up, although I was a slave, I had everything a person could wish for except an education. I can’t write or spell, but strange as it sounds I can read anything I wish. Sometimes I believe my ability to read is a gift from God.” The octogenarian also remarked: “By listening to my mistress talk, I learned how to use a lots of words correctly. Although it was against the law to teach a slave, my mistress taught me my alphabets.” The interviewer Thelma Dunston emphasized that “on...

  7. The Devil at Large: Anse Hatfield’s War
    (pp. 55-84)
    James M. Prichard

    Far from Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia’s mountainous western border was a thinly guarded frontier by the late summer of 1863. Indeed, virtually all of the Confederate forces in east Tennessee and southwestern Virginia had been ordered south that August to reinforce Braxton Bragg’s hard-pressed Army of Tennessee. The abandonment of east Tennessee permitted Union major general Ambrose Burnside’s forces to sweep through the region and seize both Knoxville and Cumberland Gap. By early September, Burnside’s advancing forces posed a serious threat to Confederate control of the mountainous region between the vital East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad and the...

  8. “Thy will, not ours”: The Wartime Ordeal of Virginia’s Churches
    (pp. 85-102)
    David Rolfs

    As she looked back in her postwar reminiscences on a year of unprecedented Confederate military disasters during the winter of 1863–1864, Richmond resident Sallie Putnam wondered how anyone could fail to appreciate the enormous wartime sacrifices of the Southern people:

    We sometimes hear of those who did not “feel the war.” Situated as we were, we could not exactly understand what the idea imported. If not in fortune at least, in the more delicate and refined sensibilities of our nature, in the loss and absence of dear friends, in the constant anxiety for the probable fate of our country,...

  9. The Virginian Wartime Scrapbook: Preserving Memories on Paper
    (pp. 103-114)
    William C. Davis

    The history of scrapbook keeping is clouded and uncertain, riddled with the mythology and misconception that surrounds most popular pastimes. For instance, it is often asserted that the ancient Romans and Greeks like Cicero and Aristotle used notebooks to collect information.¹ The problem with that is that the codex, the “book” as we know it as a bound bundle of paper with discrete leaves or pages, did not appear until the first century A.D., long after both Cicero and Aristotle, and even then it did not become a commonplace or preferred form of book structure for another three centuries after...

  10. “Lincoln acted the clown”: Virginia’s Newspapers and the Gettysburg Address
    (pp. 115-132)
    Jared Peatman

    By the fall of 1863, Richmond, Virginia, was the heart and soul of the Confederacy. Richmond housed the Confederate government, was the home to the South’s most famous and successful army, and was economically the most important city in the eleven seceded states. During the war Richmond’s population swelled from 37,000 in 1860 to more than 100,000 at the peak of the war. Due to these factors, the newspapers of the city dominated those of the Confederacy, particularly when it came to reporting Northern events. However, in the fall of 1863 the Richmond press failed its readers by inaccurately reporting...

  11. Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War, September 1862–May 1863
    (pp. 133-200)
    Judith Brockenbrough McGuire

    In the ten-month period of this segment of Mrs. Judith McGuire’s diary, she endured the aftershocks of four major battles: Second Manassas (August), Antietam (September), Fredericksburg (December), and Chancellorsville (May). Each came like a new, destructive wave, testing faith as well as hope.

    Mrs. McGuire and her minister husband were expatriates staying with friends in Lynchburg in late summer 1862. From there, they visited acquaintances in Charlottesville and family in Hanover County before finding a temporary home in Ashland. The village was twelve miles north of Richmond and astride the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. For almost a year, the...

  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 201-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-218)