Virginia at War, 1862
William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, eds.
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Buy *Virginia at War, 1862* by William C. Davis and James I. Robertson online

Virginia at War, 1862
William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, editors
University Press of Kentucky
256 pages
April 2007
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Second in a series of five on the Civil War in Virginia, this scholarly collection of essays examines what happened in and to Virginia during the Civil War in the year 1862.

John S. Salmon presents battles that occurred in Virginia that year, while Harold S. Wilson discusses how the war affected the economy and industry of Virginia. The war effort and its needs became the priority for Virginia’s economy, as it needed to produce war materials, food and other items for the Confederate army. The loss of manpower to the army caused many problems in this aspect.

John G. Selby examines how the civilians lived in Virginia during the war. Many helped out with the war effort, but some only reluctantly, especially if they were Unionists. Thomas P. Lowry depicts what life was like when the military controlled the towns and cities. Freedoms were curtailed, and people needed to have passports and other documentation to travel.

David J. Coles’ essay is on the hospitals in Richmond. Many men and women worked as nurses and in other capacities in the many hospitals that were created and expanded in Richmond, which became a city of hospitals for the war’s wounded. Harold Holzer writes about the propaganda and other such issues for Virginians. Many did not know exactly what Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee or others looked like. Often they had pictures of these important people only from earlier times. The shortage of paper and people to create art were the root cause.

Brian S. Wills examines what happened to the counties in Virginia that were opposed to secession. Dennis E. Frye writes about rebuilding Lee’s army after the Campaign of the Peninsula when many soldiers’ lives were lost. The last “chapter” is the diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire, edited by James I. Robertson, Jr. (parts of this diary are presented in each of the five volumes of this series). In this picture of real life in Virginia during the war, the diarist Mrs. McGuire describes many scenes with interesting detail and comment. The diary alone is worth acquiring this book or series.

This compilation assembles a good look into what was happening in Virginia during a particular year of the Civil War. The essays are, of course, different in style, but they all read well. Each essay has endnotes, with illustrations for the essays that need them, and there is a bibliography and an index. This book is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts especially interested in Virginia.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2008

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