UTM lecturer releases book about Civil War
Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:15 pm
The Messenger 05.26.10
“Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front” (University Press of Mississippi) is the first book since 1943 to examine the state’s civilian populace during the Civil War. Author Timothy B. Smith, University of Tennessee at Martin lecturer of history, considers the dual paradigm of Mississippi’s Civil War defeat from both outward and inward sources.
Coming from the outside, Mississippi’s military defeat and devastation was complete, with the Union army literally dismantling the state’s political system, infrastructure, economy and war effort. The state saw extensive military operations, destruction and fighting within her borders, with one of the most destructive of all Confederate military defeats taking place at Vicksburg after one of the largest campaigns of the war.
Yet even while the Confederate forces, the means of fighting the war and the state itself were being overwhelmed militarily, there was a similar inward decline taking place. The people of the state, realizing that the enemy could run rampant over its entire territory, soon began to lose the will to continue the effort.
Many white Confederates chose to go back into the Union rather than see more destruction come about in an effort to win a victory that probably was not within grasp anyway. With the tide turning, Unionists and African Americans became bolder in their effort to defeat the Confederacy. The result was a state totally defeated in its efforts to break away from the United States and one that suffered the consequences far into the future.
“Mississippi in the Civil War” tells the story of all classes of Mississippians during the war, concentrating on previously neglected groups such as women and African Americans. The result is a new and fresh examination of the social side of war.
Smith, of Adamsville, is the author of several books, including “The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and Battlefield” and “Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg.”