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A generation at war : the Civil War era in a northern community /
Nicole Etcheson.
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2011.
xii, 371 p.
0700617973 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780700617975 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2011.
0700617973 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780700617975 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [335]-356) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-05-01:
Rural, democratically leaning, socially conservative, economically unremarkable Putnam County, Indiana, was atypical of the sectional extremes fomenting the Civil War. Etcheson, who holds a named professorship at Ball State Univ., suggests such communities were nonetheless common and deserve a closer examination as to how they changed under the stresses of the sectional conflict. Her microhistory of Putnam County mines every conceivable public and private documentary source to analyze how ordinary citizens struggled with challenges to gender roles, race relations, economic standing, and political power from the 1850s to the end of the 19th century. Avoiding a theoretical emphasis, Etcheson places hundreds of personal stories in a richly detailed cultural and social context. Her conclusions about the impact of the war are largely compatible with previous, more large-scale analyses of the war era, as her own comments on those studies illustrate. Her success lies in her ability to reach a broad audience by presenting change in familiar terms as happening to believable individuals living in an understandable environment. Summing Up: Recommended. Public and college libraries, especially in the Midwest. P. F. Field emerita, Ohio University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 2012
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Main Description
For all that has been written about the Civil Wars impact on the urban northeast and southern home fronts, we have until now lacked a detailed picture of how it affected specific communities in the Unions Midwestern heartland. Nicole Etcheson offers a deeply researched microhistory of one such community-Putnam County, Indiana, from the Compromise of 1850 to the end of Reconstruction-and shows how its citizens responded to and were affected by the war. Delving into the everyday life of a small town in one of the nineteenth centurys bellwether states, A Generation at War considers the Civil War within a much broader chronological context than other accounts. It ranges across three decades to show how the issues of the day-particularly race and sectionalism-temporarily displaced economic and temperance concerns, how the racial attitudes of northern whites changed, and how a generation of young men and women coped with the transformative experience of war. Etcheson interrelates an impressively wide range of topics. Through temperance and alcohol she illustrates nativism and class consciousness, while through an account of a murder she probes ethnicity, politics, and gender. She reveals how some women wanted to "maintain dependence" and how the war gave independence to others, as pensions allowed them to survive without a male provider. And she chronicles the major shift in race relations as the most revolutionary change: blacks had been excluded from Indiana in the 1850s but were invited into Putnam County by 1880. Etcheson personalizes all of these issues through human stories, bringing to life people previously ignored by history, whether veterans demanding recognition of their sacrifice, women speaking out against liquor, or Copperheads parading against Republicans. The introduction of race with the North Carolina Exodusters marks a particularly effective lens for seeing how the idealism unleashed by Lincolns war influenced the North. Etcheson also helps us understand how white Southerners tried to reunify the country on the basis of shared white racism. Drawing on personal papers, local newspapers, pension petitions, Exoduster pamphlets, and more, Etcheson demonstrates how microhistory helps give new meaning to larger events. A Generation at War opens a new window on the impact of the Civil War on the agrarian North.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: The Murder of Martha Mullinixp. 1
Before the War
A Northern Partyp. 21
Appropriate Placesp. 50
The Excluded Racep. 74
The War
The Copperheadsp. 99
Their Own Cornerp. 123
Shoulder-Strapped Negroesp. 148
After the War
Radicals and Conservativesp. 171
Pensionersp. 198
Exodustersp. 231
Conclusion: The Monument Builderp. 260
Notesp. 271
Bibliographyp. 335
Indexp. 357
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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