With this superbly written, meticulously researched, and concisely argued study, Rogers has helped deepen our understanding of the Confederate civilian experience.
Drawing from a wealth of historic documents and personal papers, William Warren Rogers, Jr., provides a fascinating and detailed political, economic, social, and commercial history of Montgomery from 1860 to 1865. His account begins with an examination of daily life in the city before the war began-how slaves outnumbered whites, how an unvarnished frontier atmosphere prevailed on the streets despite citizens' claims to refinement, how lush crops of corn and cotton grew in fields right up to the city limits, and how class divisions were distinct and immovable.
Rogers arranges his material topically, covering the events that led to the decision for secession and Montgomery's heady days as the Confederacy's first capital; the industrialization of the city's war effort as it became a hub of activity and served as a military post; the city's business patterns and administration as it attempted to promote the Confederacy and defend itself from federal forces; and the plight of the small group of Unionists who inhabited Montgomery through the war. Rogers concludes with chapters examining the situation in Montgomery as the Confederacy unraveled and the city fell to Union troops.
The Montgomery experience offers a microcosm of life on the Confederate home front and demonstrates that citizens generally experienced the same hopes, deprivations, and tragedies that other Southerners did at this time. Rogers's well-written, comprehensive history of the wartime city makes an original contribution to Civil War homefront and community studies that should appeal to general readers and scholars alike.