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The Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862: The Accounts of Thomas Barrett and George Washington Diamond
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War memorials are symbols of a community’s sense of itself, the values it holds dear, and its collective memory. They inform us more, perhaps, about the period in which the memorials were erected than the period of the war itself.
Kelly McMichael, in her book, Sacred Memories: The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas, takes the reader on a tour of Civil War monuments throughout the state and in doing so tells the story of each monument and its creation. McMichael explores Texans’ motivations for erecting Civil War memorials, which she views as attempts during a period of turmoil and uncertaintysevere depression, social unrest, the rise of Populism, mass immigration, urbanization, industrialization, imperialism, lynching, and Jim Crow laws”to preserve the memory of the Confederate dead, to instill in future generations the values of patriotism, duty, and courage; to create a shared memory and identity based on a largely invented story”; and to anchor a community against social and political doubt.”
Her focus is the human story of each monument, the characters involved in its creation, and the sacred memories held dear to them.
Because most of the great battles of the Civil War were fought east of the Mississippi River, it is often forgotten that Texas made major contributions to the war effort in terms of men and supplies. Over 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate army during the war and fought in almost every major battle. Ordnance works, shops, and depots were established for the manufacture and repair of weapons of war, and Texas cotton shipped through Mexico was exchanged for weapons and ammunition.
The state itself was the target of the Union army and navy. Galveston, the principal seaport, was occupied by Federal forces for three months and blockaded by the Union navy for four years. Brownsville, Port Lavaca, and Indianola were captured, and Sabine Pass, Corpus Christi, and Laredo were all under enemy attack. A major Federal attempt to invade East Texas by way of Louisiana was stopped only a few miles from the Texas border.
The Civil War had significant impact upon life within the state. The naval blockade created shortages requiring Texans to find substitutes for various commodities such as coffee, salt, ink, pins, and needles. The war affected Texas women, many of whom were now required to operate farms and plantations in the absence of their soldier husbands. As the author points out in the narrative, not all Texans supported the Confederacy. Many Texans, especially in the Hill Country and North Texas, opposed secession and attempted either to remain neutral or work for a Union victory. Over two thousand Texans, led by future governor Edmund J. Davis, joined the Union army.
In this carefully researched work, Ralph A. Wooster describes Texas's role in the war. He also notes the location of historical markers, statues, monuments, battle sites, buildings, and museums in Texas which may be visited by those interested in learning more about the war. Photographs, maps, chronology, end notes, and bibliography provide additional information on Civil War Texas.
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“Few academic volumes remain timely and relevant more than thirty years after they were first published. This is one of those exceptional books.”—from the foreword by Andrew J. Torget
Historians have published countless studies of the American Civil War and the era of Reconstruction that followed those four years of brutally destructive conflict. Most of these works focus on events and developments at the national or state level, but much less attention has been given to studying how ordinary people experienced the years from 1861 to 1876. What did secession, civil war, emancipation, victory for the United States, and Reconstruction mean at the local level in Texas? Exactly how much change did the era bring to the focus of the study, Harrison County: a cotton-growing, planter-dominated community with the largest slave population of any county in the state? Providing an answer to that question is the basic purpose of A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880. First published by the Texas State Historical Association in 1983, the book is now available in paperback, with a foreword by Andrew J. Torget, one of the Lone Star State’s top young historians.Randolph B. Campbell is Regents' Professor of History at the University of North Texas. One of the leading historians of Texas of his generation, he has served as Chief Historian of the Texas State Historical Association and is the author of numerous articles and books, including An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821–1865 and Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State.Andrew J. Torget is associate professor of history at the University of North Texas and the author of Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850."