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The Civil War as Total War Madison, WI and the Creation of a Homefront John Barth Department of History University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Capstone Advisor.

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Presentation on theme: "The Civil War as Total War Madison, WI and the Creation of a Homefront John Barth Department of History University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Capstone Advisor."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Civil War as Total War Madison, WI and the Creation of a Homefront John Barth Department of History University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Capstone Advisor – Dr. Patricia Turner Abstract This project studies Madison, Wisconsin during the Civil War and analyzes how it served as a “homefront” during the conflict. It examines how the media, government, soldier interaction, and involvement of women created an atmosphere that led to the mobilization of people in Madison. In a limited war, civilian involvement is limited to those whose relatives enlist in the military. In contrast, the mobilization of the entire citizenry of Madison supports the contention by several recent historical studies that the American Civil War was in fact a “total war.” This study supports this argument through the use of a variety of empirical evidence, including newspapers, archival sources, political proclamations and memoirs of the war. Madison, Wisconsin was on the U.S. frontier in the 1860s and thus completely separated from the battlefront. The conclusions of this project suggest that communities throughout the Union -- whether near the theatre of war or on the periphery -- served similar functions in the Civil War. It thus contributes a new perspective to the historical debate on the status of the Civil War as a total war. Objective To show that the American Civil War is an example of total war by proving Madison, WI was a homefront. Total War  Defined as “a war to which all resources and the whole population are committed; loosely, a war conducted without any scruple or limitations.” 1  Historians like James McPherson have argued that the Civil War became a total war once the North realized it needed to completely destroy the systems of the South, its people, and all its resources. 2 Two Components of Total War 1.Military Engagement 2.Homefront Engagement If cities like Madison can be identified as a homefront, other cities in the North could be similarly classified. Thus, one of two aspects of total war would be accomplished. Why Madison, WI?  Cities far away from the battlefront should be studied.  They are more independent.  The people are the ones who make the city a homefront. No outside forces are making the city become a homefront.  If a frontier city like Madison can be classified as a homefront, other cities in the North can be assumed experienced similar situations and can also be considered a homefront.  There has been very little research on the city of Madison that investigates its status as a homefront. Homefront A homefront is a place where the citizenry is motivated and focused on supporting the war through spending their time, energy, and resources on the war effort. Components of a homefront inform, equip, and encourage civilians to support the battlefront. Four Components of Homefront 1.Media—Newspapers and photographs gave civilians knowledge about events on the battlefront. 2.Involvement of Women—The actions and interests of women were a major force in how the homefront added to the battlefront. 3.Government—Raised volunteers to fight in the military and purposed their administrations to influence their constituents into supporting the war effort. 4.Soldier-Civilian Interaction—Cities acted as mobilization points for military units and became catalysts for the relationships between soldiers and civilians. Acknowledgments I would like to first thank my God who has enabled, empowered, and equipped me in all aspects of my life. I offer my work up to Him in thanksgiving and gratitude. This study would not have been possible without His foundation and active work in my life. I am very grateful for the love and support I have received from my family and friends throughout the research and writing of this paper. The advice, remarks, and encouragement have helped me to do my very best. I would also like to thank my capstone advisor, Dr. Patricia Turner. Her experience has given me the guidance and direction that led me to the completion of this project. Also, the assistance I received from archivists, Colleen McFarland (UWEC) and Ruth Wachter-Nelson (UWSP) was indispensable in my research process. Media Newspapers  Newspapers focused the citizenry on the war effort and gave them information on the war they were supporting.  The Wisconsin Daily State Journal was an example of an informative newspaper in Madison.  Acted as a method for politicians and other officials to communicate to the general public.  Informed Madison on progress on the battlefront and in Washington, D.C. Photography  A relatively new form of media, photography brought a transparency to war that the United States had not experienced before.  Photographers such as Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner captured images of soldiers dead on the battle field.  Civilians could buy books with photographs displayed or attend Art Galleries that showed the “gritty images.” 6  Changed the lives of civilians and influenced them to support the war. Involvement of Women  The vast majority of people left in Madison during the war were women. They made up the homefront.  Gov. Randall called on women proclaiming that they “can give strength and courage and warm sympathies and cheering words to those who go to do battle for all that is dear to us here.” 8  Encouraged men to enlist in the military and developed deep feelings of patriotism.  Wrote letters to soldiers in an effort to comfort and give joy to loved ones. Cordelia Harvey  Widow of Gov. Harvey. Worked as a leader to build an Army Hospital in Wisconsin.  Successfully built the Harvey U.S. Army General Hospital in Women’s Organizations  Women organized themselves into groups like the Ladies’ Aid Society and Ladies’ Union League. They mobilized into these societies in an effort to raise funds, supplies, and support for the soldiers on the battlefront.  Organized events, such as parties, that passed on money and relief to wounded soldiers. Government Actions of Wisconsin Governors reflects the focus of the citizenry. They were leaders in the efforts to preserve the Union. Supported President Lincoln and his policies. They used their administrations to fight the war in Madison. Camp Randall and Soldier Interaction  Madison acted as a hub for many military units that were leaving Wisconsin for the battlefront.  Camp Randall was created to train soldiers. Over the course of the war, 70,000 men were mustered here. 12  Soldiers were able to leave Camp Randall and interact with the civilian population.  Civilians were talking, seeing, and doing business with soldiers on a regular basis.  They became informed on the soldiers who were fighting on the battlefront.  Confederate Prisoners of War were held in Camp Randall for a short time. Civilians experienced the enemy for the first time. Contribution to the Field of History During the Civil War, there were thousands of cities across the United States. Each of these experienced their own personal war and displayed different attributes and reactions to the fighting that tore apart the country. Madison, Wisconsin is only one example out of the many. If Madison, WI, which is geographically removed from the battlefront, served as a “homefront” in the Civil War, this provides strong evidence that cities throughout the Union did so as well. This study contributes to the field of History by adding a new perspective to historians’ study and analysis of the Civil War. Recently, revisionist research has suggested that the Civil War was in fact an embryonic form of “Total War,” a form of warfare usually associated only with the global conflicts in the twentieth century (e.g. World War I and II). This project provides empirical evidence to support this new historical perspective on the Civil War. Further Study  Local histories of cities on the frontier such as Minneapolis, Detroit, or Chicago.  To study the economic sector of Madison  To study the rural areas surrounding Madison and see how the war affected small town lives. With such a large topic to cover, it is no surprise that scholars have been studying the Civil War since its end in Historians have a duty to study city histories to gain a more complete understanding of the Civil War and of the people who lived through it. Things to Remember  There must be a battlefront in order for the Homefront to exist.  While Madison, Wisconsin seems to be geographically distant from the battlefront, the city still maintained political and emotional ties to the war.  Madison was focused on the war and had a high motivation to expend their resources to preserve the Union.  The battlefront would not have thrived if not for the support and foundation that people on the homefront gave.  The four aspects of Madison, WI (Media, Women, Government, and Soldier Interaction) adds to the conclusion that the city was a homefront during the Civil War. Works Cited 1.Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford and New York, 1989), 18: James M. McPherson, Abraham Lincoln and the second American Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), J.H. Colton, “Colton’s Wisconsin Map,” Wisconsin Historical Society, 1861,. 4.Unknown photographer, “Cordelia A. P. Harvey,” Wisconsin Historical Society,. 5.Wisconsin Daily State Journal, September 18, 1862, Wisconsin Historical Society 6.Keith F. Davis, The Origins of American Photography: , From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), Alexander Gardner, Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, (Washington: Philp & Solomons, ; reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1959), Alexander Randall, “To the Patriotic Women of Wisconsin,” April 22, 1861, in Civil War Messages and Proclamations of Wisconsin War Governors, ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites (Madison: Wisconsin History Commission, 1912), Alexander Randall, “To the Loyal Citizens of Wisconsin,” April 16, 1861, in Thwaites, Richard N. Current, The History of Wisconsin. Volume II: The Civil War Era, (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976), Louis P. Harvey, “Annual Message,” Jan. 10, 1862, in Thwaites, Carolyn J. Mattern, Soldiers When They Go: The Story of Camp Randall: (Madison: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1981), vii. 13.John Gaddis, “Old Camp Randall, Madison, Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Historical Society,. Colton’s Wisconsin Map, J.H. Colton Alexander Randall ( )  Began preparing for war in 1858 through the militia.  Issued a call for volunteers. 9  Asked Lincoln for an additional 300,00 men to protect the frontier states and territories from Southern invasion. Otherwise, state would “act on themselves.” 10 Louis P. Harvey (1/6/1862-4/19/1862)  Proclaimed that Wisconsin must “meet and crush the greatest, and... the most causeless and wicked rebellion the world has seen.” 11  Drowned in the Mississippi River while bringing medical supplies to soldiers on the battlefront. Edward Salomon ( )  Entire administration was defined by war.  Continued to raise volunteers to fight.  He worked to give supplies and money to soldiers on the battlefront and their families living in Madison. James Taylor Lewis ( )  Raised funds to support the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Continued policies that cared for soldiers as they came back to Wisconsin following Lee’s surrender. “Cordelia A. P. Harvey,” Unknown photographer Conclusion The components in this project show that Madison during the Civil War was a homefront. Since Madison was completely separated from the battlefront during the war, the city must have become a homefront out of the will of its people. With Madison considered a homefront, it can be assumed that other cities like it around the North and South became homefronts as well. These many homefronts across the United States interacted with each other and worked toward the common goal of fighting the war at home. This created a larger United States homefront during the Civil War. With a homefront across the North and South, this component of total war is satisfied. Funded by UWEC ORSP and Differential Tuition Wisconsin Daily State Journal, September 18, 1862 “A Harvest of Death,” Alexander Gardner “Old Camp Randall, Madison, Wisconsin” by John Gaddis


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