Saturday, August 9, 2014

1863: Lincoln's Pivotal Year

1863: Lincoln's Pivotal Year
Edited by Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard

On January 1, 1863 after spending a few hours welcoming visitors and shaking hundreds of hands, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which declared all enslaved people in areas where an active rebellion against to Government of the United States was in progress would be thence forward and forever free.  It was a momentous beginning for 1863, the second full year of the war, and what would prove to be a pivotal year for Abraham Lincoln and the divided nation.

Lincoln scholars Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard have edited a volume of essays by notable historians and scholars which examine the events during the twelve months between January 1st and December 31st, 1863 and titled it “1863: Lincoln’s Pivotal Year.”

The Remembrance of a Dream” written by the book’s co-editor, Harold Holzer, introduces the volume is and is followed by ten essays which cover the events, developments and personalities that dominated the headlines in 1863:

In “The Day of Jubilee” Edna Green Medford covers the reactions of Northerners and Southerners, both black and white, to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Frank J. Williams tackles Lincoln’s use of his Constitutional war powers to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and his trying of insurrectionists by a military tribunal in “Under Cover of Liberty.”

As the author of “Lincoln and his Admirals” Craig L. Symonds justifiably handles the joint operations of the Army and Navy during the Vicksburg Campaign, as well as Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont’s failed attempted to shell and capture Charleston, South Carolina in “Lincoln at Sea.”

Military Drafts, Civilian Riots” is Barnet Schecter’s essay on the first military draft issued by the United States Government and its resulting reaction of the New York City Draft Riots.

The Lincoln family during 1863 is the focus of Catherine Clinton’s essay, “The Fiery Furnace of Affliction.”

In “And the War Goes On” John F. Marzalek and Michael B. Ballard discuss how the twin victories of the Union Forces at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, dealt the hand of ultimate defeat to the Confederates, and yet the war continued on for another two years.

Bob Zeller discusses Civil War photography in his essay, “Picturing the War.”

The General Tide” by William C. Davis paints the big picture of the war in 1863.

The Gettysburg Address Revisited” by Orville Vernon Burton, need I say more.
Harold Holzer’s essay “Seldom Twice Alike: The Changing Faces of History” closes out the volume with a discussion about the use of Abraham Lincoln’s image and its effect on his supporters and those who opposed him.

The essays work as stand-alone pieces allowing the reader to easily read an essay in a sitting, and collectively as a whole while relating the events of 1863.  Each essay is well written and easily read with end notes after each chapter.  I’m confident the average Civil War student with a bit more knowledge of the war than the average casual reader would have no problem reading this book.

ISBN 978-0809332465, Southern Illinois University Press, © 2013, Hardcover, 216 pages, Photograph & Illustrations, End Notes at the end of each essay, Appendices & Index. $32.95.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

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