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War stuff: the struggle between armies and civilians during the American Civil War

"Return of a Foraging Party to Philippi, Virginia"
Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1861/NY State Library
"Return of a Foraging Party to Philippi, Virginia"

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.

- Originally broadcast 06/14/19 -

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.