Examining the impact of militarization on life in the south during the Civil War, this work reveals the depth of its political, social, and military crisis.
Never before or since in American history have the needs and influence of the military weighed so heavily on society. Escott analyzes the militarization of life in the Confederacy and probes the relationships between military commanders, legislators, and Jefferson Davis and his administration. As the South struggled to wage an exhausting war against the North, military necessity increasingly determined policy and shaped all aspects of life. The military had an increasingly large impact not only on policy but also on events inside civil society. Military men played important roles in bringing about extensive social change, enforcing law and order, and placing significant restrictions on individual freedoms.
Ultimately the crisis of the Confederacy threatened both the constitutionalism that southern politicians long had cherished and a core principle of the tradition of civil control over the military. Key figures in the army also took the lead in urging the use of slaves as soldiers and promoting the idea of emancipation. With many portraits of high-ranking generals and civil officials and telling anecdotes that reveal the nature of their relationships, this book reveals the depth of the Confederacy's social, political, and military crisis and highlights what this crisis revealed about the foundations of Confederate society.
Preface Traditions for a New Nation Policy-Making Produces Innovation and Controversy The Politics of Command Toward a Militarized Society Military Power and Debility Military Men and Civil Policy-Making Desperate Proposals and Maintenance of Civil Supremacy Citizens and Soldiers Notes Selected Bibliography
Reviews "Escott has added an undeniably fresh dimension to our understanding of the familiar by showing the extent to which the military fashioned pivotal civilian policies.....[H]is analysis is reasonable and balanced, his interpretation containing much truth."—Civil War History
"Escott, author of several major works on the history of the US South and the Civil War, examines the relationship between civil and military authority in the Confederacy during the Civil War. In this recent entry to a series on the larger subject of US civil-military relations, Escott finds that the pressures of war on a smaller, less industrialized, less modernized society forced Confederate leaders to make increasingly difficult decisions about the role of the military in a nation dedicated to civilian control of the military. When faced with the possibility of defeat and extinction, the Southern nation depended increasingly on military answers and seriously eroded the traditional US allegiance to civilian superiority. Indeed, this erosion was deeper than at any other moment in US history. Still, the Confederacy became neither a police state nor a dictatorship, and neither Jefferson Davis nor Robert E. Lee would consider becoming a dictator, though some urged them to do so. This is a clearly written, sensibly argued, and valuable perspective on the Civil War period. Illustrations, maps, endnotes. Recommended. Professionals, graduate students, and undergraduates."—Choice
"Over the course of the Civil War, military necessity increasingly determined policy in the South. In this text for scholars and interested general readers, Escott analyzes the militarization of civil society in the Confederacy and explores the relationships between military commanders, legislators, and the Jefferson Davis administration. The focus is on the conflict that arose between those who favored a strict adherence to the Confederate Constitution and those who argued for the subordination of certain individual and state rights during wartime. The volume is illustrated with b&w portraits of the leaders profiled."—Reference & Research Book News
"Any studying Confederate military history and experience will want to place Paul D. Escott's Military Necessity: Civil-Military Releations in the Confederacy on their reading list as something a bit out of the ordinary. No light coverage, Professor Escott's history analyzes how life was militarized in the Confederacy and considers the evolving relationships between commanders, legislators, and Jefferson Davis' administration as the South entered war times and hardships. The military had a big impact on policy and also on civil society: MILITARY NECESSITY charts these changes and documents crisis points and relationships between military and civil society."—California Bookwatch
Endorsements "Paul Escott is a brilliant scholar. I believe that this book is the most important work on the Confederacy published in the last quarter-century. Escott's insights about the Confederate South transcend the nineteenth-century and, as good history should, speak to universals in the human condition. This is exciting stuff and an outstanding book."—Emory Thomas, Regents Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia
"The Confederacy was beset with internal discord before the ink dried on its constitution. Not surprisingly, the tug-of-war between a strict adherence to that constitution, and the necessary subordination of certain individual and state rights during the emergency of a war for survival, became one of the conerstones of that internal debate. Paul D. Escott's The Plea of Military Necessity: Civil Military Relations in the Confederacy is the first work ever to explore the dynamics of an argument that began before the first shots were fired, and which raged to within hours of the surrenders. Anyone hoping to appreciate the complexity and nuance of the Confederacy's own vision of itself will profit from this innovative work."—William C. Davis, Professor of History, Virginia Tech