Agriculture and the Confederacy

Policy, Productivity, and Power in the Civil War South

By R. Douglas Hurt

364 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 maps, 4 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2000-8
    Published: March 2015
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-2001-5
    Published: March 2015

Civil War America

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In this comprehensive history, R. Douglas Hurt traces the decline and fall of agriculture in the Confederate States of America. The backbone of the southern economy, agriculture was a source of power that southerners believed would ensure their independence. But, season by season and year by year, Hurt convincingly shows how the disintegration of southern agriculture led to the decline of the Confederacy's military, economic, and political power. He examines regional variations in the Eastern and Western Confederacy, linking the fates of individual crops and different modes of farming and planting to the wider story. After a dismal harvest in late 1864, southerners--faced with hunger and privation throughout the region--ransacked farms in the Shenandoah Valley and pillaged plantations in the Carolinas and the Mississippi Delta, they finally realized that their agricultural power, and their government itself, had failed. Hurt shows how this ultimate lost harvest had repercussions that lasted well beyond the end of the Civil War.

Assessing agriculture in its economic, political, social, and environmental contexts, Hurt sheds new light on the fate of the Confederacy from the optimism of secession to the reality of collapse.

About the Author

R. Douglas Hurt is professor and head of the department of history at Purdue University.
For more information about R. Douglas Hurt, visit the Author Page.


"An excellent study of an important but generally neglected aspect of the Civil War."-- Journal of American History

“A significant contribution to our understanding of both the problems plaguing southern agriculture and the reasons for the Confederacy’s defeat.”--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“Brilliant analysis. . . . After reading this masterful volume, Civil War scholars will need to reconsider and rewrite the history of the Confederacy”--Journal of Southern History

“Highly recommended.”--CHOICE

"An important book...Sure to stimulate additional scholarship on agriculture during the war."--Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

“An important addition to the historiography of the Civil War and the Confederacy. . . . A useful book for students of postbellum southern agriculture.”---North Carolina Historical Review