Maryland Voices of the Civil War

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The most contentious event in our nation’s history, the Civil War deeply divided families, friends, and communities. Both sides fought to define the conflict on their own terms―Lincoln and his supporters struggled to preserve the Union and end slavery, while the Confederacy waged a battle for the primacy of local liberty or "states' rights." But the war had its own peculiar effects on the four border slave states that remained loyal to the Union. Internal disputes and shifting allegiances injected uncertainty, apprehension, and violence into the everyday lives of their citizens.

No state better exemplified the vital role of a border state than Maryland―where the passage of time has not dampened debates over issues such as the alleged right of secession and executive power versus civil liberties in wartime. In Maryland Voices of the Civil War, Charles W. Mitchell draws upon hundreds of letters, diaries, and period newspapers―many previously unpublished―to portray the passions of a wide variety of people―merchants, slaves, soldiers, politicians, freedmen, women, clergy, slave owners, civic leaders, and children―caught in the emotional vise of war. Mitchell tells the compelling story of how Maryland African Americans escaped from slavery and fought for the Union and their freedom alongside white soldiers and he reinforces the provocative notion that Maryland’s Southern sympathies―while genuine―never seriously threatened to bring about a Confederate Maryland.

Maryland Voices of the Civil War illuminates the human complexities of the Civil War era and the political realignment that enabled Marylanders to abolish slavery in their state before the end of the war.

2007, edited by Charles W. Mitchell, 568 pages, hardcover

41 halftones, 52 line drawings

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