America's greatest conflict was long in coming. Its roots lay deeply embedded in the nation's past. Despite rhetoric, then and since, the fundamental issue was always slavery. On April 15, 1861, Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand militiamen. This prompted most of the slave-holding states still tentatively loyal to the Union to secede; Virginia on April 17, followed shortly by Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were barely held for the Union. Men sprang to arms, to take part in the great adventure. Most believed the war would be short. The aged Winfield Scott, hero of both the War of 1812 and with Mexico, now an honorary lieutenant general but still General-in-Chief of the Army, suggested in vain that it would be long and hard.
This book looks at America and Americans and their war as a narrative, as a commonplace book: a collection of useful, interesting or entertaining information—factoids, essays, poems, anecdotes, lists, profiles, and other miscellany—that help throw light on various aspects of the war, from its origins through its battles and people and so on down to the present, looking at how we remember and memorialize those people and events.
The compilation is a selection of items of interest, covering the entire war and includes more detail and facts than any similar one-volume publication on the subject. Most of these pieces of information are normally scattered over innumerable books, newspaper and magazine articles that make up our knowledge of the Civil War.
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