Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Booknotes: Gaston County, North Carolina, in the Civil War

New Arrival:
Gaston County, North Carolina, in the Civil War by Robert C. Carpenter (McFarland, 2016).
"This unique study of one Southern county's war experience tells of ordinary soldiers and their wives, mothers and children, slaves, farmers, merchants, Unionists and deserters--through an examination of tax records. The recently discovered 1863 Gaston County, North Carolina, tax list provides a detailed economic and social picture of a war-weary community, recording what taxpayers owned, cataloging slaves by name, age and monetary value, and assessing luxury items. Contemporary diaries, letters and other previously unpublished documents complete the picture, describing cotton mill operations, the lives of slaves, political disagreements, rationales for soldiers' enlistments and desertions, and economic struggles on the home front."
The notes and bibliography indicate significant mining of public and private archives. Chapters profile life, commerce, and politics on the home front for white and black residents, while also discussing the county's contribution to the Confederate army and the Unionist segment of the population. Desertion and the breakdown of civil order during the war are other major concerns. The county tax list mentioned above is included as an appendix and should prove useful to researchers.

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