Starving the South: How the North Really Won the Civil War
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Did they matter, those battlefield encounters, or was the war won via the stomach?
historian’s new look at how Union blockades brought about the defeat of a starving
Confederacy. In April 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered a blockade of Southern ports
used by the Confederacy for cotton and tobacco exporting as well as for the importation of food.
The Confederate army grew thin while Union dinner tables groaned and Northern canning
operations kept Union armies strong.
In Starving the South, Andrew Smith takes a gastronomical
look at the war’s outcome and legacy.While the war split the country in a way that still affects
race and politics today, it also affected the way we eat: It transformed local markets into nationalized food suppliers;
forced the development of a Northern canning industry; established Thanksgiving as a national holiday; and blended
a new cuisine from the recipes of freed slaves who migrated north. On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter,
Smith is the first to ask: “Did hunger ultimately defeat the Confederacy?” Hardcover, 295 pages.
Excerpt from page 145:
"When President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that Thanksgiving would be celebtrated on November 24, 1864, George W. Blunt, a New Yorker, proposed to lift the spirits of Union soldiers and sailors in Virginia by supplying them 'with poultry and pies, or puddings, all cooked, ready for use.' While he admitted it would be 'a big undertaking,' Blunt thought it 'would be a grand sight to see that army of brave men, loyal to the flag, feeding on the good things of the land they have fought for, whilst the miserable traitors, if they still hold out, are crouched behind their defences hungry and starving.'"
Excerpt from page 133:
Not every resident of the Shenandoah supported the Confederacy; there were also many union supporters, particularly at the northern end. Bitter partisan combat commenced at the beginning of the war and continued until its end. Confederate guerrilla units and rangers also operated in and around the Shenandoah, the most famous being the 43rd Virginia Battalion under the command of Captain John S. Mosby. Mosby’s Rangers regularly assaulted Union forces in the valley, and burned out the homes of Union supporters there. The Rangers lived almost entirely off the land, and when not engaged in military activities, most lived in their homes. The area just east of the Shenandoah Valley was so supportive of Mosby that it was called “Mosby’s Confederacy.”