Book

New Bedford's Civil War

Earl Mulderink, III

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243341
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823243389 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823243341.001.0001

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

New Bedford's Civil War

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This book examines the social, political, economic, and military history of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in the nineteenth century, with a focus on the Civil War homefront from 1861 to 1865 and on the city's black community, soldiers, and veterans. It contributes to the growing body of Civil War studies that analyzes the “war at home” by focusing on the bustling center of the world's whaling industry in the nineteenth century. Using a broad chronological framework of the 1840s through the 1890s, the book contextualizes the rise and fall of New Bedford's whaling enterprise and details the war's multifaceted impacts between 1861 and 1865. One of its major goals is to explore the war's social history by examining how the conflict touched the city's residents—both white and black. Known before the war for both its wealth and its antislavery fervor, New Bedford offered a congenial home for a sizeable black community that experienced a “different Civil War” than did native-born whites. Drawing upon military pension files, published accounts, and welfare records, the book pays particular attention to soldiers and families connected with the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the “brave black regiment” (made famous by the Academy Award-winning 1989 film Glory) that helped shape national debates over black military enlistment, equal pay, and notions of citizenship. New Bedford's enlightened white leaders, many of them wealthy whaling merchants with Quaker roots, actively promoted the military enlistment that pulled 2,000 local citizen-soldiers into the Union ranks.

Keywords: New Bedford; Civil War; war at home; whaling industry; social history; conflict; black regiment; Glory; black military enlistment; equal pay

Book.  320 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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Table of Contents

Introduction in New Bedford's Civil War

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