For many people, Pennsylvania's contribution to the Civil War goes little beyond the battle of Gettysburg. The North in general has received far less attention than the Confederacy in the historiography of the Civil War—a weakness in the literature that this book will help address. The essays in this volume reconsider the impact of the Civil War on Pennsylvania and the way its memory remains alive even today.
Making and Remaking Pennsylvania's Civil War contains a wealth of new information about Pennsylvania during the war years. For instance, perhaps as many as 2,000 Pennsylvanians defected to the Confederacy to fight for the Southern cause. And during the advance of Lee's army in 1863, residents of the Gettysburg area gained a reputation throughout North and South as a stingy people who wanted to make money from the war rather than sacrifice for the Union. But the state displayed loyalty as well and commitment to the cause of freedom. Pittsburgh served as the site for one of the first public monuments in the country dedicated to African Americans. Women of the Commonwealth also contributed mightily through organizing sanitary fairs or helping in ways that belied their roles as keepers of the domestic world. And readers will learn from an African American soldier's letters how blacks helped win their own liberation.
As a whole, the ten essays contained in Making and Remaking Pennsylvania's Civil War include courage on the battlefield but reflect the current trends to understand the motivations of soldiers and the impact of war on civilians, rather than focusing solely on battles or leadership. The essays also employ interdisciplinary techniques, as well as raise gender and racial questions. They incorporate a more expansive time frame than the four years of the conflict, by looking at not only the making of the war—but also its remaking—or how a public revisits the past to suit contemporary needs.