War Matters

Material Culture in the Civil War Era

Edited by Joan E. Cashin

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 3 graphs, 1 table, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4320-5
    Published: October 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4319-9
    Published: October 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4321-2
    Published: October 2018

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Material objects lie at the crux of understanding individual and social relationships in history, and the Civil War era is no exception. Before, during, and after the war, Americans from all walks of life created, used, revered, exploited, discarded, mocked, and destroyed objects for countless reasons. These objects had symbolic significance for millions of people. The essays in this volume consider a wide range of material objects, including weapons, Revolutionary artifacts, landscapes, books, vaccine matter, human bodies, houses, clothing, and documents. Together, the contributors argue that an examination of the meaning of material objects can shed new light on the social, economic, and cultural history of the conflict. This book will fundamentally reshape our understanding of the war.

In addition to the editor, contributors include Lisa M. Brady, Peter S. Carmichael, Earl J. Hess, Robert D. Hicks, Victoria E. Ott, Jason Phillips, Timothy Silver, Yael A. Sternhell, Sarah Jones Weicksel, Mary Saracino Zboray, and Ronald J. Zboray.

About the Author

Joan E. Cashin is professor of history at the Ohio State University.
For more information about Joan E. Cashin, visit the Author Page.


"All of the contributors . . . successfully argue for the appropriateness and validity of incorporating into the historical scholarship the study of material items of cultural significance. . . . Should be read by all Civil War professional historians and graduate students, but many of the essays also exhibit popular appeal sufficient to gain the volume a wider reading audience. Highly recommended."--Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors

“The first collection of essays devoted solely to Civil War material culture . . . . War Matters pushes readers beyond the idea that relics are just ‘things’ collected by Civil War enthusiasts and are instead meaningful artifacts that speak to the history of the American Civil War.”--The Annals of Iowa

“A singular contribution. Once shunted to the side as tidy illustrations, the artifacts of war and peace are now being taken seriously as complicated and revealing forms of evidence. And for that, we owe Cashin and her contributors a debt of gratitude.” --Ohio Valley History

"An excellent volume produced by a who’s who of stars in the field of Civil War history."--Ari Kelman, author of A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek

"A knife. A pocket Bible. A cloak. By holding these and other objects up to the light, these eminent historians reveal the many ways that Americans used the material world to survive and understand the Civil War. This collection will captivate scholars and students of Civil War history and change the way we think about wartime experiences."--Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War