The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two
competing societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict.
Concerned Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how
to be good citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought
hundreds of miles away. They read novels, short stories, poems,
songs, editorials, and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons
and satirical essays. Their spirits were stirred in response to
recruiting broadsides and patriotic envelopes. This massive
cultural outpouring offered a path for ordinary Americans casting
around for direction.
Examining the breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew
Gallman offers a dramatic reconsideration of how the Union's
civilians understood the meaning of duty and citizenship in
wartime. Although a huge percentage of military-aged men served in
the Union army, a larger group chose to stay home, even while they
supported the war. This pathbreaking study investigates how men and
women, both white and black, understood their roles in the People's
Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and angry stereotypes
ridiculing the nation's cowards, crooks, and fools, while wrestling
with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman shows how
thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a new
set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.