Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Civil War. . .

Another Civil War: Labor, Capital, and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-1868.
[Fordham University Press, 2006]
Growing up in Schuylkill County, in the heart of east-central Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region, I learned quickly all about the patriotism and heroism of my native area's Civil War soldiers. A high rate of volunteerism, several Medal of Honor recipients, numerous generals, colonels, and other high ranking officers, and thousands of soldiers who each did their part to save the Union. It wasn't until I got older and did some digging through the county's war records that I realized Schuylkill County was a bitterly divided region throughout the war years. Anti-war, Anti-Lincoln, and especially Anti-draft sentiment ran rampant throughout parts of the county, especially in the coal mining towns and townships. Lincoln, who won the Schuylkill County vote in 1860, lost it in 1864. Violence even swept the county during the draft and had become such a problem that Lincoln himself told the Pennsylvania authorities to simply "make it appear" as though Schuylkill County met its quota of conscripts. Martial Law was declared throughout parts of the County, and U.S. soldiers were sent to the area to keep the peace.
Grace Palladino has written an excellent book that examines the dichotomy that existed in Schuylkill County and other anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. I would encourage anyone with an interest in the Civil War and its effect on the homefront to pick up this work. The following is a description of the book as it appears on amazon.com:

Winner of the Avery O. Craven Prize of the Organization of American Historians Another Civil War explores a tumultuous era of social change in the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania. Because the Union Army depended on anthracite to fuel steam-powered factories, locomotives, and battle ships, coal miners in Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Carbon Counties played a vital role in the Northern war effort. However, that role was complicated by a history of ethnic, political, and class conflicts: after years of struggle in an unsafe and unstable industry, miners expected to use their wartime economic power to win victories for themselves and their families. Yet they were denounced as traitors and draft resisters, and their strikes were broken by Federal troops. Focusing on the social and economic impact of the Civil War on a group of workers central to that war, this dramatic narrative raises important questions about industrialization and work-place conflicts in the mid-1860s, about the rise of a powerful, centralized government, and about the ties between government and industry that shaped class relations. It traces the deep, local roots of wartime strikes in the coal regions and demonstrates important links between national politics, military power, and labor organization in the years before, during, and immediately after the Civil War.

The book can be purchased at:

No comments: