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296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 20 halftones, 2 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

Civil War America

Paper
ISBN  978-1-4696-2199-9
Published: December 2014

The Won Cause

Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic

By Barbara A. Gannon


Awards & Distinctions

2012 Wiley-Silver Prize for Civil War History, Center for Civil War Research

Honorable Mention, 2012 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Finalist, 2011 Jefferson Davis Award, Museum of the Confederacy

In the years after the Civil War, black and white Union soldiers who survived the horrific struggle joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)--the Union army's largest veterans' organization. In this thoroughly researched and groundbreaking study, Barbara Gannon chronicles black and white veterans' efforts to create and sustain the nation's first interracial organization.

According to the conventional view, the freedoms and interests of African American veterans were not defended by white Union veterans after the war, despite the shared tradition of sacrifice among both black and white soldiers. In The Won Cause, however, Gannon challenges this scholarship, arguing that although black veterans still suffered under the contemporary racial mores, the GAR honored its black members in many instances and ascribed them a greater equality than previous studies have shown. Using evidence of integrated posts and veterans' thoughts on their comradeship and the cause, Gannon reveals that white veterans embraced black veterans because their membership in the GAR demonstrated that their wartime suffering created a transcendent bond--comradeship--that overcame even the most pernicious social barrier--race-based separation. By upholding a more inclusive memory of a war fought for liberty as well as union, the GAR's "Won Cause" challenged the Lost Cause version of Civil War memory.

About the Author

Barbara A. Gannon is assistant professor of military history at the University of Central Florida.


Reviews

"Gannon presents an original and absorbing account . . .countering current scholarship. . . . A compelling corrective to common misconceptions. . . . Pertinent and persuasive; highly recommended for Civil War specialists."
--Library Journal

"This book will force readers to reconsider their assumptions about 19th-century race relations. Recommended. All levels/libraries."
--Choice

"An insightful examination of the ways individual memory and historical fact meld together to create an organization's and a nation's public identity."
--Civil War Times

“Gannon’s innovative research method, the logical rigor of her argument, and the persuasiveness of her evidence make this an invaluable contribution to the literatures on the Civil War, emancipation, race, and memory.”
--American Historical Review

“A welcome addition to the literature on the Civil War, its veterans, and its collective memory in American society between the 1860s and 1920s.”
--Civil War Book Review

“A stimulating and provocative book.”
--Journal of American History

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