Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Booknotes: A More Civil War

New Arrival:
A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War
by D.H. Dilbeck (UNC Press, 2016).

"In this innovative book, D. H. Dilbeck reveals how the Union sought to wage a just war against the Confederacy. He shows that northerners fought according to a distinct "moral vision of war," an array of ideas about the nature of a truly just and humane military effort. Dilbeck tells how Union commanders crafted rules of conduct to ensure their soldiers defeated the Confederacy as swiftly as possible while also limiting the total destruction unleashed by the fighting. Dilbeck explores how Union soldiers abided by official just-war policies as they battled guerrillas, occupied cities, retaliated against enemy soldiers, and came into contact with Confederate civilians." Dilbeck is far from the first person to make these arguments, and it will be interesting to see what his slim volume might add to the conversation. I haven't had a chance to look through any of it yet. In general, those that write books and articles along this vein tend to do a fine job of context and analysis when it comes to official policy and intent, but I have been less impressed with most regarding interpretation of actual ground-level implementation.

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