In the wake of the firing on Fort Sumter, outraged Northerners looked forward to a quick and decisive victory over the Confederate rebels. But after the First Battle of Bull Run it became clear to supporters of the Union that the Civil War would be prolonged and deadly. How Northern society mobilized to fight this first great modern war is the subject of J. Matthew Gallman's perceptive history. Drawing on a wide range of up-to-date scholarship and addressing the issues from a fresh perspective, his book fills a surprising void in Civil War literature. Gallman's focus is on continuity and change—what traditions the North relied on in preparing for war, and what adjustments it made in its behavior and institutions. From his analysis it seems clear that the Civil War was not the great watershed in political, economic, and social development that is often supposed. Gallman's investigation of the status of women and blacks, for example, shows that wartime gains, if significant for a few, were on the whole decidedly modest. And while "total war" came to the battlefield in a frightening manner, its impact on the Northern home front was far less certain. American Ways Series.
J. Matthew Gallman teaches American history at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. He has also written Mastering Wartime: A Social History of Philadelphia During the Civil War.