The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Book Reviews

The Confederacy's inability to protect its homefront from the ravages
of war forced women to assume new economic and political roles,
which caused some women to waver in their support for "The Cause."
The growing impoverishment of the Southern countryside created a
noticeable rift among the various classes with female members of the
yeomanry class demonstrating their anger toward the government by
engaging in food riots and by aiding draft evaders and deserters.
Nonetheless, Rable suggests that incidents such as these represented
"loosely rooted changes" (p. 264). Despite the intensity of this "inter-
nal" civil war, Rable argues that the majority of Southern white women
rarely questioned the fundamental tenets of their society; instead, they
clung to distinctions based on class and race as their situation wors-
ened. Since the South's definitions of womanhood rested on a complex
ordering of race, class, and gender relations, Rable recognizes the im-
portance female role definition had in either maintaining or subverting
the Southern social order. "Most Southerners," he writes, "saw the
changes in sex roles between 1861-1865 as an aberration, an experi-
ment launched out of necessity. .... The Confederates had not prom-
ised a domestic revolution, and none occurred" (p. 135)-
University of North Carolina at Wzlmington KATHLEEN C. BERKELEY
The Private Civzl War: Popular Thought During the Sectional Conflict. By
Randall C. Jimerson. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1988. Pp. xiv+27o. Acknowledgments, preface, notes, illus-
trations, epilogue, bibliography, index. $24.95.)
In the past five years, there has been a renewed interest in the "com-
mon man" in the Civil War. Gerald Linderman, Reid Mitchell, James I.
Robertson, Jr., and I have all written on some aspect of Civil War par-
ticipants, and now Randall C. Jimerson joins that group with his The
Private Czvil War. Unlike the other authors, Jimerson attempts to ascer-
tain popular thought by expanding his study to include civilians who
experienced the war, as well as soldiers. The result is a fine addition to
those other works.
Jimerson views the war as one of conflicting sectional perceptions,
yet at the heart of both arguments was a threat to liberty. Confederates
viewed ownership of slaves as their right, and attacks by abolitionists
were efforts to deprive them of freedom. In the Southern world, there
were only liberty and slavery, and defeat on this issue would subjugate
the South. For the North, secession was a threat to the republican form
of government, which was the source of all liberty. Its dissolution was
the destruction of freedom. Thus, the Union that Northerners saw as

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed December 25, 2014.