The Civil War brought many forms of upheaval to America, not only
in waking hours but also in the dark of night. Sleeplessness
plagued the Union and Confederate armies, and dreams of war glided
through the minds of Americans in both the North and South.
Sometimes their nightly visions brought the horrors of the conflict
vividly to life. But for others, nighttime was an escape from the
hard realities of life and death in wartime. In this innovative new
study, Jonathan W. White explores what dreams meant to Civil
War–era Americans and what their dreams reveal about their
experiences during the war. He shows how Americans grappled with
their fears, desires, and struggles while they slept, and how their
dreams helped them make sense of the confusion, despair, and
loneliness that engulfed them.
White takes readers into the deepest, darkest, and most intimate
places of the Civil War, connecting the emotional experiences of
soldiers and civilians to the broader history of the conflict,
confirming what poets have known for centuries: that there are some
truths that are only revealed in the world of darkness.