Rebel Richmond

Life and Death in the Confederate Capital

By Stephen V. Ash

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5098-2
    Published: October 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5099-9
    Published: August 2019

Civil War America

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In the spring of 1861, Richmond, Virginia, suddenly became the capital city, military headquarters, and industrial engine of a new nation fighting for its existence. A remarkable drama unfolded in the months that followed. The city's population exploded, its economy was deranged, and its government and citizenry clashed desperately over resources to meet daily needs while a mighty enemy army laid siege. Journalists, officials, and everyday residents recorded these events in great detail, and the Confederacy's foes and friends watched closely from across the continent and around the world.

In Rebel Richmond, Stephen V. Ash vividly evokes life in Richmond as war consumed the Confederate capital. He guides readers from the city's alleys, homes, and shops to its churches, factories, and halls of power, uncovering the intimate daily drama of a city transformed and ultimately destroyed by war. Drawing on the stories and experiences of civilians and soldiers, slaves and masters, refugees and prisoners, merchants and laborers, preachers and prostitutes, the sick and the wounded, Ash delivers a captivating new narrative of the Civil War's impact on a city and its people.

About the Author

Stephen V. Ash is professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and author of A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year after the Civil War.
For more information about Stephen V. Ash, visit the Author Page.


"Deeply researched, revealing, and compelling. . . . Will set the standard for other much-needed intensive, close-up examinations of what the Civil War meant on the ground."--Library Journal

“Ash rightly concludes that the most noteworthy change in Richmond after April 1865 was the absence of slavery, ‘radically altering the city’s social, economic, and political landscape.’ That landscape is evolving to this day.”--America’s Civil War

“Outstanding. . . . From the arrest of an African American bartender who allegedly spoke to a white man with “insolent and provoking language” to hospital matrons’ attempts to brighten their dreary living quarters, Rebel Richmond compellingly illuminates how Richmonders lived, labored, and died in a city where the war sometimes reached the suburbs and was never far away.”--H-Net Reviews

"Remarkably rich, humane, and compelling. Ash reveals aspects of life in the Confederate capital we have never seen before and helps us understand that the Civil War was much more than the familiar battles--it was a cataclysmic event that consumed the entire society, especially in the South."--Edward L. Ayers, author of The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America

"Rebel Richmond carves out a unique and important place in the crowded chronicles of the Confederate capital. Stephen V. Ash employs an impressive variety of untapped sources to weave a compelling portrait of wartime Richmond centered around the city's everyday occupants. This is simply one of the best urban studies of the Civil War era ever written."--A. Wilson Greene, author of A Campaign of Giants; The Battle for Petersburg

"Stephen V. Ash offers a captivating portrait of the erosion of the order and habits of Richmond under the relentless pressure of war. Often picaresque and always poignant, Rebel Richmond is a rich kaleidoscope of white and black Richmonders scrambling for food and housing, searching for diversion and solace, and anxiously awaiting the outcome of a war that engulfed them."--W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Civil Torture: An American Tradition, a Pulitzer Prize@–finalist