In the American Civil War the enemy were not outsiders from over the border or across the sea, but fellow citizens of the same country, and often brothers, cousins or friends from the same town or county. The conflict was bloody and bitter, and caused deep wounds, but although time has exerted its usual healing effect, the memories linger on, and the campaigns, uniforms, and above all the people, remain a source of endless fascination. Many artifacts remain to provide substance to those memories. Most of these are lovingly preserved in both public and private collections - although even more items surely also exist, stored in boxes and cupboards in lofts or barns around the United States, their significance unrecognised, or their existence forgotten.
This book presents the reader with a wide selection from some of the most notable Civil War collections, and features more than 200 plates showing several thousand individual items Even this rich collection is, however, but a small sample of the material in the many collections across the United States, most of which are easily accessible to the public.
The war was about people and so the uniforms and personal property of the officers and soldiers take pride of place, appearing first in the book. As in all sections, Federal artifacts are shown first and it will be seen that the dress and accouterments of the Northern troops were more standardized and of good quality from the start, while those of the Confederacy tended to vary in pattern and - especially as the war progressed - to become of ever-decreasing quality. Weapons followed a similar pattern, with the North having access to the prewar arsenals, while the South had to depend on what it could capture, produce in hastily established gun foundries, or import from abroad. The book concludes with a miscellany - flags, surgical equipment and personal memorabilia -all intended to bring back to life those heroes of long ago.
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