In the Wake of War
Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America
336 Pages / 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.70 in / 1 halftone
- Paperback /
- 9780807176313 /
- Published: August 2021
- Hardcover /
- 9780807167069 /
- Published: December 2017
- eBook /
- 9780807167083 /
- Published: December 2017
The Civil War era marked the dawn of American wars of military occupation, inaugurating a tradition that persisted through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and that continues to the present. In the Wake of War traces how volunteer and even professional soldiers found themselves tasked with the unprecedented project of wartime and peacetime military occupation, initiating a national debate about the changing nature of American military practice that continued into Reconstruction.
In the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, citizen-soldiers confronted the complicated challenges of invading, occupying, and subduing hostile peoples and nations. Drawing on firsthand accounts from soldiers in United States occupation forces, Andrew F. Lang shows that many white volunteers equated their martial responsibilities with those of standing armies, which were viewed as corrupting institutions hostile to the republican military ethos. With the advent of emancipation came the enlistment of African American troops into Union armies, facilitating an extraordinary change in how provisional soldiers interpreted military occupation. Black soldiers, many of whom had been formerly enslaved, garrisoned regions defeated by Union armies and embraced occupation as a tool for destabilizing the South’s long-standing racial hierarchy. Ultimately, Lang argues, traditional fears about the army’s role in peacetime society, grounded in suspicions of standing military forces and heated by a growing ambivalence about racial equality, governed the trials of Reconstruction.
Focusing on how U.S. soldiers—white and black, volunteer and regular—enacted and critiqued their unprecedented duties behind the lines during the Civil War era, In the Wake of War reveals the dynamic, often problematic conditions of military occupation.
An elegantly written and important book, one that helps us understand both the past and the present, Lang’s study reasserts the central role of occupation in the Civil War, especially for northern soldiers. For these men, occupation duty contradicted the central tenet of how they understood republican citizenship—that social and political change should come from the people’s will, not the barrel of a gun. This insightful book reveals how the ideological tensions generated by the war shaped its outcome and reminds us of the inherent difficulties democracies face when they wage war. ~Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies, Louisiana State University
In the Wake of War presents an incisive reevaluation of the American citizen-soldier experience. This work highlights the challenges that violent irregular war, arduous military occupation, and the dawn of emancipation threw at idealistic volunteers steeped in a republican tradition, and how the experiences of an international war with Mexico, a domestic Confederate rebellion, and a sustained army presence in the defeated Southern states shaped Americans’ understanding of patriotic service in a time of war. Readers who seek to understand the changes war wrought for the inner world of nineteenth-century soldiers will find this book a good place to start their study. ~Barton A. Myers, coeditor of The Guerrilla Hunters: Irregular Conflicts during the Civil War
In the Wake of War explores deep and abiding conflicts within the United States’ republican culture through a careful study of the way that citizen-soldiers understood their role in occupations of Mexico and the former Confederacy in the middle of the nineteenth century…An important study in the burgeoning field of Civil War–era occupation, In the Wake of War speaks to the different but enduring contemporary dilemmas the United States faces today. ~Gregory P. Downs, author of After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War
Winner of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award ~Society of Civil War Historians