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Private Confederacies

The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers

By James J. Broomall

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 5 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4976-4
    Published: January 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4975-7
    Published: March 2019
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5198-9
    Published: March 2019

Civil War America

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How did the Civil War, emancipation, and Reconstruction shape the masculinity of white Confederate veterans? As James J. Broomall shows, the crisis of the war forced a reconfiguration of the emotional worlds of the men who took up arms for the South. Raised in an antebellum culture that demanded restraint and shaped white men to embrace self-reliant masculinity, Confederate soldiers lived and fought within military units where they experienced the traumatic strain of combat and its privations together--all the while being separated from suffering families. Military service provoked changes that escalated with the end of slavery and the Confederacy's military defeat. Returning to civilian life, Southern veterans questioned themselves as never before, sometimes suffering from terrible self-doubt.

Drawing on personal letters and diaries, Broomall argues that the crisis of defeat ultimately necessitated new forms of expression between veterans and among men and women. On the one hand, war led men to express levels of emotionality and vulnerability previously assumed the domain of women. On the other hand, these men also embraced a virulent, martial masculinity that they wielded during Reconstruction and beyond to suppress freed peoples and restore white rule through paramilitary organizations and the Ku Klux Klan.

About the Author

James J. Broomall is assistant professor of history at Shepherd University and director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War.
For more information about James J. Broomall, visit the Author Page.


“Succeeds in illuminating the murky, oft-neglected human factors that shaped the Civil War. . . . A valuable addition.”--Journal of America’s Military Past

“Broomall’s conclusions are bold and indeed timely. . . . Private Confederacies deserves a wide readership. It asks new questions and tells us new things about how the Civil War and Reconstruction actually felt.”--Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era

"This book was a joy to read. Broomall uncovers the thoughts and feelings as well as the lived experiences of his subjects, shedding new light on the ways in which citizen-soldiers responded to the collapse of their world."--Sarah Gardner, Mercer University

"By following the private writings of Southern men through secession, civil war, and defeat, James J. Broomall has written a fresh, lively, and rigorous emotional history of the Confederacy. Private Confederacies reveals how Southern men lived through the eras historians typically use to organize the past into tidy epochs. At the same time, Broomall unflinchingly underscores the pernicious cause for which they fought--slavery and white supremacy--and its violent manifestations in postwar vigilante violence."--Timothy J. Williams, University of Oregon