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The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave, The deep damp vault, the darkness and the worm – A history of Civil War Boston

Civil War Boston : home front and battlefield    Boston : Northeastern University Press, c 1997    Thomas H. O’Connor Boston (Mass.) History Civil War, 1861-1865 Social aspects Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvi, 313 p. : ill., 1 map ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-296) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

Thomas H. O’Connor examines the dramatic ways in which the Civil War affected Bostonians on the home front, and discusses how they in turn contributed to the Union cause. The narrative focuses on four distinctive and significant groups of people who formed antebellum Boston — business­men, Irish Catholic immigrants, Africans, and women. O’Connor follows the experiences of these people through the turbulent war years to illuminate the unique role that Boston and its inhabitants played in the Civil War, and to assess the impact of the war on the city’s civilian population. Rich with colorful anecdotes about local figures, both renowned and long-forgotten, this is an   account of the mass hysteria that began with puritanism was transformed by transcendentalism and finally was reforged as abolitionism but was always guided – and manipulated – by old money.

100 years too late a monument to those who died of starvation, malnutrition and pneumonia brought on by Boston winters and no fire wood.

Of course what is absolutely missing is any sort of accurate account of Fort Warren – the cold, damp hell hole in Boston Harbor that during the Civil War, the island fort served as a prison for  Confederate army and navy personnel, elected civil officials from the state of Maryland seized without due process of the law, as well as Northern political prisoners cast into this dungeon without habeas corpus. James M. Mason and John Slidell, the Confederate diplomats seized in the Trent affair, were among those held at the fort. Military officers held at Fort Warren include Richard S. Ewell, Isaac R. Trimble, John Gregg, Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson, Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr., and Lloyd Tilghman. High ranking civilians held at Fort Warren include Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, and Confederate Postmaster General John Henninger Reagan. Women were imprisoned with the men and of the more than 1,000 imprisoned there at least 13 died and were unmemorialized until the Boston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy got a stone erected more than 100 years later.


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