Rebel Richmond: Life and Death in the Confederate Capital

Univ. of North Carolina. Oct. 2019. 296p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469650982. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781469650999. HIST
Ash (history, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville; A Massacre in Memphis) fits his deeply researched, revealing, and compelling title into the recent trend of books on a people’s history of the Civil War. Without eschewing larger questions of war management and military engagements, the author focuses on the many and varied people who lived in, came to, or escaped from Richmond during the war years: a mix of soldiers, refugees, prisoners, profiteers, government employees, enslaved and free blacks, and others. Ash tracks the experiences of work, life, military and public service, religion, and more, in rendering how the most basic needs of food, water, shelter, companionship, and purpose were affected by the circumstances and demands of living in the Confederate capital as the war drew closer and took an ever more exacting toll. By focusing on the lives of people, Ash emphasizes that the war was a constant strain on resources, physical and mental health, human relationships, and the meaning of duty to one’s “country,” family, and self.
VERDICT This book will set the standard for other much-needed intensive, up-close examinations of what the Civil War meant on the ground.

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