*** war and social upheaval: the American Civil War home front

The American Civil War: Home Front

Civil War home front

Figure 1.--This rare outdoor 1/2 plate tintype shows neughborhood children attired as a Civil War unit with drug and fife corps and a Union flag. The dealer writes, "The children are lined up in their military style uniforms play acting like their fathers who most likely were at war. Most wear Shako style hats with feathered plumes. Several older boys hold their drum, fife and an American flag. The boy in the center seems to be acting as the commanding officer and even wears a Civil War issued belt buckle". The photograph is undated. The dealer suggests it was taken during the Civil War. We believe it may been taken a few years after the War. Notice the iconic white picket fence. Put your cursor on the image to see the rest of the group.

The Civil War was the major event in American history during the 19th century. It was foiught over the basic question of wheter Ameriuca would be oine country or two. By the the 1860s, the United States had developed into two distinct regions with important differences, essentially different countries. The diiferences were centered primarily on the institution of slavery and there was actually a great deal in common. The War fundamentally changed Ametica -- and not just the soldiers. Huge changes were set in motion in the culture, demographics, economy, politics, society, and technology -- virtually all aspects of national life. Lives were changed forever. Before the Civil War, the great majority of Americans grew up on farms. Most people never ventured more than 50 miles from home. Farm populatiions were largely isolated from national life. There were only a few large cities of over a million inhabitants. All but one (New Orleans) was located in the South. This was vital, because it is the big northern cities that America's industry was located. The railroad had begun to create an increasing mobile populoation, but that process had just begun by 1860 and the continent was not yet crossed by rail. Women had to step forward to care for the family when their vmen went off to war. Earlier wars had been fought on much smaller scales. During the Civil War a much larger share of the civilian (mostly male) population was involved--more than all previous American wars combined. This meant that mothers had toi take on much of the hard physical labor of farm work. Agriculture was still largely unmechanzed. The demand for men was so great that the North eventually had to institute America's first military draft. People on the home front had to deal with range of issues, including fighting, inflation, shortages, sickness, worry and loss of loved ones, and a myriad of other problems. The casualty lists were horrifying. More Americans lost lived ones in the Civil War than any other conflict--amd America at the time was a much smaller country. Issues in the North were serious. In the South where the economy was centered on one crop (cotton), it was catastrophic after the U.S. Navy bloclade began to tighten and the enslaved work force began to run away to Federal lines. The Souther home front was also affected bt the fact that most od the War was fought in the South.

The North

The South


Giesberg, Judith. Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Levine, Bruce. The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil war and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South (2012).

CIH -- Civil War

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Created: 2:02 AM 11/8/2020
Last updated: 2:02 AM 11/8/2020