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The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War America) Hardcover – May 30, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A concise and provocative book. . . . [it] will force historians to reconsider many aspects of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century race relations and to listen more carefully to the voices of the veterans.--Register of The Kentucky Historical Society

The important corrective administered [in Gannon's book] will change the way we think about the Grand Army of the Republic and race from now on.--Journal of Southern History

A welcome addition to the literature on the Civil War, its veterans, and its collective memory in American society between the 1860s and 1920s.--Civil War Book Review

Gannon's innovative research method, the logical rigor of her argument, and the persuasiveness of her evidence make this an invaluable contribution to the literatures on the Civil War, emancipation, race, and memory.--American Historical Review

This book will force readers to reconsider their assumptions about 19th-century race relations. Recommended. All levels/libraries.--Choice

[Gannon's] research method is an important step in the efforts to rewrite the history of African Americans, their contributions to the Civil War and efforts to gain equality.--Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

This important and provocative volume makes. . . valuable contributions to our understanding of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and particularly the role of African American veterans in that powerful postwar organization. . . . [A] rich and powerful text.--Florida Historical Quarterly

The Won Cause is an important an impressive book.--Army History

A stimulating and provocative book.--Journal of American History

Uncover[s] the extent of African American participation and integration in the GAR. . . . The Won Cause brings an important new perspective.--The Annals of Iowa

Will contribute to ongoing and vigorous debates on how freedom came during and after the American Civil War.--H-CivWar

Gannon presents an original and absorbing account . . .countering current scholarship. . . . A compelling corrective to common misconceptions. . . . Pertinent and persuasive; highly recommended for Civil War specialists.--Library Journal

The Won Cause is a unique and important contribution to the slowly growing literature on Civil War veterans and will help inspire historians to take closer looks at the ways that veterans and their communities responded to the decades following the war.--Journal of the Civil War Era

[The Won Cause] would make an important addition to the libraries of those readers who are interested in the GAR and the role of its members in defining Gilded Age race relations.--Journal of America's Military Past

An invaluable resource.--Kansas History

An insightful examination of the ways individual memory and historical fact meld together to create an organization's and a nation's public identity.--Civil War Times


This important, in-depth study goes far toward explaining the postwar experiences of Civil War veterans and particularly the racially charged political atmosphere that African American veterans faced at the local, state, and national levels.--Joseph P. Reidy, co-editor of Freedom's Soldiers: The Black Military Experience in the Civil War

Barbara Gannon has written a fine piece of scholarship with highly impressive, groundbreaking research. This important study will be a major contribution to the literature on the Civil War.--Donald R. Shaffer, author of After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans


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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st New edition edition (May 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807834521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807834527
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,927,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Barbara Gannon's "The Won Cause" is an important book that tells a story few now know---the comradeship developed on the field of battle that continuted into the peace. Most believe that Black and white Union soldiers inhabited different worlds and that Black service was not only forgotten but dismissed by their former fellow soldiers. Not always so as Gannon details with a history of integrated Grand Army of the Republic posts where men bonded over their shared experience in the decades after the Civil War. It is well researched, very well written and an important book for anyone interested in the Civil War, military history or even the social history of race in the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
The Lost Cause is the romantic myth of the Civil War that most Americans bought from 1915 to 1960. The Won Cause : Black and White Comradeship of the Grand Army of the Republic is a well researched book for today. Barbara Gannon makes a good case for the first large inter racial society in America. While all white and all blacks posts exited, she finds a surprisingly large number of integrated posts based upon the death records to reveal race. Many black comrades, even at the state level, held lower levels of elected position. Massachusetts did elect a black State president ( Dept. Commander), but more importantly they were allowed to debate as equals with their white contemporaries. Black members often marched as the color bearer in public parades and showed society they had a place in veteran politics. Her point was the white GAR members could have excluded black applicants through the ballot box, but they chose to be integrated because they wanted to. Lets not forget the GAR elected 5 US presidents, they were one of the strongest political forces in America The GAR was proud of the fact they had won the Civil War and had freed millions of enslaved people.
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Format: Hardcover
We accept the idea that segregation and discrimination is the norm between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Era. Most history is full of examples supporting this idea. We often cite the Grand Army of the Republic as an example of anti-Black and anti-Catholic sentiment. This is the era of Jim Crow, the Klan, lynching and race riots. What should we make of a book that says the GAR was an integrated organization?
During the Civil War, the North recruited thousands of Black men from 1862 to 1865. These men were the United States Colored Troops, USCT, officered by Whites they fought in all theaters. These men lived in a segregated military that reflected society. Their service resulted in the retention of Black regiments in the regular army that existed until after World War II. This book is not a history of the USCT's service in the Civil War or until they were abolished. This book is a history of USCT veterans that joined the Grand Army of the Republic and their experiences.
The GAR never officially separated in Black and White posts. The GAR never refused to allow Blacks to attend meetings, conventions, campfires or reunions. They were unique in this respect and from time to time refused to separate on race. In this book, the author advances the idea that the GAR overcame "contemporary racial mores'. It is a difficult position to take and a challenge to defend. The author presents a picture of an organization with a mixed record. There are White posts, Black posts and mixed posts. Posts enjoy presentations from veterans with little regard for race. Members address conventions from the floor without regard for race. However, officers above the post level are white. Black veterans, while nominated seldom are elected.
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Format: Hardcover
In Won Cause you find a pathway back to a time of heroism, belonging and comradeship. The book offers the larger heroism of those who suffered and died and more miniature details of soldiers standing up for the brother in arms when race divided them. Gannon has uncovered mixed race veterans post in a multitude of states. She presents the charity of the women's auxiliaries who found meaning in their work to sustain wounded vets and their families. She chronicles what it meant to suffer and survive a war with wounds that caused chronic pain and for some the legacy of battle was not shiny medals but chronic diseases. Fascinating and detailed and hopeful in the unity of black and white veterans and their families.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Too much has been written about the “lost cause“ and not enough about the reasons for the war.  The issues were “union“ and slavery.    This book reminds us about those issues which remain unsolved in 2012.
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