War Stuff: The Struggle Between Armies and Civilians During the American Civil War

Jun 10, 2019

In War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War, her path-breaking work on the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin explores the struggle between armies and civilians over the resources necessary to wage war.

This war 'stuff' included the skills of white Southern civilians, as well as such material resources as food, timber, and housing. At first, civilians were willing to help Confederate or Union forces, but the war took such a toll that all civilians, regardless of politics, began focusing on their own survival. Both armies took whatever they needed from human beings and the material world, which eventually destroyed the region's ability to wage war. In this fierce contest between civilians and armies, the civilian population lost. Cashin draws on a wide range of documents, as well as the perspectives of environmental history and material culture studies.

Dr. Cashin talks about this history with Walter Edgar, and about the efforts of historians to establish a precedent for the study of material objects as a way to shed new light on the social, economic, and cultural history of the conflict.

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