The American Civil War claimed more than 620,000 American lives.
Did you know that it also cost American forests, landscapes, cities, and institutions?
Today, we explore the different types of ruination wrought by the Civil War with Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, we explore the ruination wrought by the Civil War with Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War.
During our conversation, Megan reveals why Union and Confederate commanders thought they could end the war by destroying the enemy’s capital; The opportunities created by the destruction wrought by the Civil War; And, the place of ruins in American memory and landscapes.
What You’ll Discover
- What American Studies is and how it can help historians learn about the past
- How Megan came to research a book about the destruction of the Civil War
- Why Union and Confederate commanders thought they could end the war by destroying the enemy’s capital city
- The Union capture of Richmond, Virginia
- The practice of defensive burning
- The destruction of Columbia, South Carolina
- Opportunities created by the destruction of cities
- What the destruction of southern cities and their occupation by Union soldiers meant for southern women
- The Union Army’s “Woman Order”
- The wartime experiences of slaves
- How the armies’ need for wood altered southern forests
- How Union and Confederate armies altered northern landscapes
- How Union and Confederate armies altered western landscapes
- Death and casualty statistics
- Amputation and life for amputees
- Civil War photography and Americans’ fascination with it
- The place of ruins in American landscape and memory
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Megan Kate Nelson
- Megan’s blog, Historista
- Megan’s Twitter handle: @megankatenelson
- Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War
- Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp
- Gone with the Wind
- Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War
- Empty Sleeves: Amputation in the Civil War South
Time Warp Question
In your opinion what might have happened if photographs and images of the Civil War had not been created? How would Americans’ perception of the Civil War and the destruction it wrought have been, and be, different?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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