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Plain Folk in a Rich Man's War: Class and Dissent in Confederate Georgia

David Williams; Teresa C. Williams; R. David Carlson

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ISBN 10: 0813025702 / ISBN 13: 9780813025704
Published by University Press of Florida, 2002
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Plain Folk in a Rich Man's War: Class and ...

Publisher: University Press of Florida

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

About this title

Synopsis:

"A significant voice in a significant debate . . . full of marvelous quotes."--William W. Freehling, University of Kentucky

"Shows clearly that the Solid South was not solid at all [and] demonstrates that the war encompassed much more than military strategy and tactics . . . it was fought at home as well as on the battlefield."--Wayne K. Durrill, University of Cincinnati

This compelling and engaging book sheds new light on how planter self-interest, government indifference, and the very nature of southern society produced a rising tide of dissent and disaffection among Georgia's plain folk during the Civil War. The authors make extensive use of local newspapers, court records, manuscript collections, and other firsthand accounts to tell a story of latent class resentment that emerged full force under wartime pressures and undermined southern support for the Confederacy.

More directly than any previous historians, the authors make clear the connections between the causes of class resentment and their impact. Planters produced far too much cotton and avoided the draft at will. Speculators hoarded scarce goods and brought on spiraling inflation. Government officials turned a blind eye to the infractions of the rich, and were often bribed to do so. Women left to go hungry took matters into their own hands, stealing livestock in rural areas and rioting for food in every major city in Georgia. The hardships of families back home weighed heavily on soldiers in the field, contributing to rampant desertion. Deserters banded together, sometimes with draft dodgers and blacks escaping enslavement, to defend themselves or to go on the offensive against Confederate authorities. Some whites even planned and participated in slave resistance, a joining of forces that previous historians have long dismissed as highly improbable. So violent did Georgia’s inner civil war become that one resident commented, "We are fighting each other harder than we ever fought the enemy."

This work stresses more forcefully than any before it that plain folk in the Deep South were far from united behind the Confederate war effort. That lack of unity, brought on largely by class resentment, helped to ensure that the Confederacy’s cause would, in the end, be lost.

David Williams is professor and acting chair of the Department of History at Valdosta State University.

About the Author:

David Williams, a native of Miller County, Georgia, is professor and acting chair of the Department of History at Valdosta State University. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Johnny Reb's War: Battlefield and Homefront and Rich Man's War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley.

Teresa Crisp Williams, a native of Columbus, Georgia, is administrative coordinator of the graduate school and instructor of history at Valdosta State University. She has published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly and is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of the American Civil War.

David Carlson, a native of Valdosta, Georgia, has published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly and is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of the American Civil War.

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