Discovering the Civil War
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Foreword by Ken Burns
Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War, this generously illustrated book peels back years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to reveal the human face of history. Discovering the Civil War features more than 400 letters, diaries, photographs, maps, petitions, receipts, patents, amendments, and proclamations from the unparalleled holdings of the National Archives, taking a fresh look at the war through little-known stories, seldom-seen documents, and unusual perspectives. The National Archives holds not only the records of the Union forces but also the so-called "Rebel Archives," captured from the Confederacy, and the records of the Freedmen's Bureau, the agency that helped African Americans in their transition from slavery to citizenship.
This book looks beyond the battlefield to the experiences of ordinary people-substitutes who were paid to replace draftees, veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg at their 75th-anniversary reunion in 1938, or a female soldier named Frank Thompson, who served in the Union Army disguised as a man. Famous documents, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, are juxtaposed with lesser-known documents, including an innovative wartime patent for a multipurpose device that could serve as a tent, knapsack, or blanket, and a message in Chinese characters asking for Confederate ships to be barred from Chinese ports-proving that the Civil War was a truly international struggle.