Review by Choice Review
Sutherland (Univ. of Arkansas) is author of The Confederate Carpetbaggers (CH, Jan'89) and The Expansion of Everyday Life, 1860-1876 (CH, Oct'89). If social historians have "lost the Civil War" as suggested in Matthew Gallman's The North Fights the Civil War (CH, Oct'94), Seasons of War reclaims it for them. Culpeper County, Virginia, is the focus of the work. Often caught up in military action, the community encompassed the famous and the unknown, temporary residents and local citizens. Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Grant, George Custer, Walt Whitman, and Clara Barton join locals whose family papers and diaries revealed their hopes and fears. No group has been neglected: women, slaves, free blacks, Unionists, Confederates, military, and mercenaries are included. Readers benefit from the stories told, although the narrative loses the overall context of war. The work is written in the present tense, and is thus sometimes disconcerting. The book is not unlike a primary source that presents only a small piece of a very large puzzle. However, the stories are interesting. Recommended for Civil War buffs and college libraries with significant Civil War collections. N. J. Hervey; Luther College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Sutherland, professor of history at the University of Arkansas, tells the story of the Civil War from the perspective of a single community. Virginia's Culpepper County was never the site of a major battle. Located between the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers, it was, however, a focal point for both armies between 1861 and 1865. Occupied repeatedly by the Union, it remained strongly Confederate in its sympathies. Sutherland's use of the present tense highlights the county's sustaining of a complex racial, social and economic structure despite externally imposed conscription, taxes, requisitions and confiscations. As armies marched, life went on. Property changed hands. Marriages were solemnized and dissolved. Men went to war. Some died. Some returnedwith or without government sanction. Even for communities directly in its path, the book suggests, the Civil War was a good deal less than a total war. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The triumphs and trials of a small Virginia community that lay directly in the paths of the warring Union and Confederate armies, superbly chronicled by historian Sutherland (Univ. of Arkansas; The Expansion of Everyday Life: 18601876, 1989, etc.). The fortunes of Culpeper County in many ways mirrored those of the South at large, the seasons of its war tracking those of the Confederacy. Here these fortunes are vividly captured, from immediately before the war through the South's early successes and eventual defeat. Culpeper saw much bloodshed between 1861 and 1865: It was near Manassas, within earshot of Chancellorville and Fredericksburg, and the site of the brutal Cedar Mountain campaign. Culpeper was also twice occupied by the Union Army and a temporary base of operations for Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Even ``homely angel'' Clara Barton made an appearance in Culpeper to nurse the casualties of Cedar Mountain. But it is in his depictions of the common soldier and of everyday civilian life in a war zone that Sutherland shines, bringing immediacy to historic events through creative present-tense narrative, judicious use of statistics, and liberal quoting from the participants themselves. These include Catherine Crittenden, whose home went from prosperous farm to battlefield to hospital; soldiers who buried playing cards and tobacco so that, in case of their death, these evil items wouldn't be sent home to mothers, wives, and girlfriends; soldiers burying the severed limbs of wounded comrades; Bessie Browning and Daniel Grimsley, engaged before the war, faithful correspondents during it, and married after. And through these ordinary citizens, Sutherland creates a picture of the war that is at once comprehensive and highly personal. A rare combination of documented facts and moving storytelling. (16 pages b&w photos, maps, not seen)
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