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Lorien Foote publishes, Rites of Retaliation

Dr. Lorien Foote, the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor of History and our esteemed colleague, has just published Rites of Retaliation:  Civilization, Soldiers, and Campaigns in the American Civil War with UNC Press.  This monograph is based on the Steven and Janice Brose Lectures at Pennsylvania State University that she gave in the fall of 2019.  The link to the book is here

Dr. Foote finds that during the Civil War, Union and Confederate politicians, military commanders, everyday soldiers, and civilians claimed that their approach to the conflict was civilized, in keeping with centuries of military tradition meant to restrain violence and preserve national honor.  One hallmark of such civilized warfare was a highly ritualized approach to retaliation.  This ritual provided a forum to accuse the enemy of excessive behavior, to negotiate redress according to the laws of war, and to appeal to the judgment of other civilized nations.  As the war progressed, Northerners and Southerners feared they were losing this claim to civilization as the attention to retaliation grew more intense.  When Black soldiers joined the Union army in campaigns in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, raiding plantations and liberating enslaved people, Confederates argued the war had become a servile insurrection.  And when Confederates massacred Black troops after battle, killed white Union foragers after capture, and used prisoners of war as human shields, Federals thought their enemy “raised the black flag” by embracing savagery.  Blending military and cultural history, this rich and insightful book sheds light on how Americans fought over what it meant to be civilized and who should be extended the protections of a civilized world.

Congratulations Lorien on this new book that will shed new and important light on one of the most fascinating and debated periods in U.S. history.