What This Cruel War Was Over

Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

Publisher: Vintage
In this unprecedented account, Chandra Manning uses letters, diaries, and regimental newspapers to take the reader inside the minds of Civil War soldiers-black and white, Northern and Southern-as they fought and marched across a divided country. With stunning poise and narrative verve, Manning explores how the Union and Confederate soldiers came to identify slavery as the central issue of the war and what that meant for a tumultuous nation. This is a brilliant and eye-opening debut and an invaluable addition to our understanding of the Civil War as it has never been rendered before.


“The fact that slavery is the sole undeniable cause of this infamous rebellion, that it is a war of, by, and for Slavery, is as plain as the noon-day sun.” [1] So claimed the farmers, shopkeepers, and laborers who made up the 13th Wisconsin Infantry in February 1862. The white Southerners who made up Morgan...
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“An essential contribution to our understanding of slavery and the Civil War.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A breathtakingly thorough examination of attitudes toward slavery of the rank-and-file troops, blue and gray, black and white.”
The Baltimore Sun

“An engrossing study of Civil War soldiers . . . by breathing life into them, she breathes life into debates over why the war came and how it was waged.” —Chicago Tribune

“A splendid book that should be read carefully by all who have an interest in the Civil War.” —Civil War News