Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Booknotes: Iowa Confederates in the Civil War

New Arrival:
Iowa Confederates in the Civil War by David Connon (America Through Time, 2019).

A small state whose Democratic Party dominance had collapsed by 1860, Iowa remained strongly Republican throughout the war and contributed over 75,000 fighting men to the Union cause. Nevertheless, as was the case elsewhere among the free states, pockets of resistance emerged in Iowa, particularly in counties bordering the Mississippi River. Dozens of mini-biographies of Iowa residents who went the extra step beyond simple opposition by either joining the Confederate military or actively serving the Southern cause in some other capacity are collected in David Connon's Iowa Confederates in the Civil War.

From the description: "Seventy-six of these men entered the Confederate service. Readers will follow their pre-war, war-time, and post-war experiences, ranging from difficult relationships to disease, imprisonment, desertion, and adventure. More stories illuminate the turbulent Iowa home front, where life was hard for parents of Confederates and for Peace Democrats."

For the purposes of his study, Connon defines an Iowa resident as "one who lived in Iowa before the Civil War for at least two years, no earlier than 1850, and was thirteen or older during residency" (pg. 13). Individuals profiled in the book served in all three branches of the Confederate Army, the Confederate Navy, and "at least two worked in the Confederate Treasury Department." The reasons cited by these men as to why they chose to become Confederates are (in descending order): economic opportunism, family/place connections, States Rights ideology, a sense of adventure, and peer pressure. Ten also had some family connection to slavery. Their "stories" are grounded in deep research (much of it archival), with notes and bibliography referring to a very large collection of letters, diaries, government documents, books, periodicals, county histories, and newspaper articles.

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