A Year In The South(BOOK) - Essay Example

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V. Ash in his acclaimed book ‘A Year in the South’ brilliantly captures the tribulations that were prevalent in the confederate towards the end of the civil war, when a new South was taking shape. The author eloquently tells the story of Louis Hughes, Cornelia…
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Task A Year in the South (Option Stephen. V. Ash in his acclaimed book ‘A Year in the South’ brilliantly captures the tribulations that were prevalent in the confederate towards the end of the civil war, when a new South was taking shape. The author eloquently tells the story of Louis Hughes, Cornelia McDonald, John Robertson, and Samuel Agnew, all of whom he refers to as, “four ordinary people in an extraordinary time, and who lived through the pivotal moment of Southern history” (Ash, p. Xiii). He uses these four characters to illustrate the larger economic, political and social trends that were prevalent in the southern region on the wake of the confederate defeat (Roberts, p.1). What follows then is a compelling story of hope, despair and tribulations during the collapse of the confederacy and the raise of a new south to show, that the end of the civil war impacted heavily across all persons from different backgrounds and classes.
The end of the civil war brought with it an overwhelming financial crisis. Poverty was widespread and all the southerners were undergoing a turbulent time in making their ends meet. In the book, Cornelia was one of the vast refugees who fled as a result of lack of food during the civil war era (Brown, p.4). Even in her new home, Lexington Virginia, she still had to struggle to obtain food for herself and her seven children. In public she casts herself as a cheerful and jovial figure but when alone she says that she would, “go up the stairs and throw myself on my knees and cry to God for food” (Ash, p.167). Louis Hughes, on the other hand, is a freed slave battling to gain independence and self-sufficiency for him and his family by envisioning that the end of the war would mark his independence together with the other slaves. He thus engages in the business of selling tobacco plugs within the slave community. The business was booming at the beginning, but with the collapse of the confederate authority in the state he says that his, “happy interlude” came to an end (Ash, p.28).
Besides the economic downturn caused by the confederate war, Steven V. Ash also manages to capture the social, as well as the political turmoil that were taking shape upon the demise of the confederate south. Samuel Agnew, being the son of a minister and later a minister himself, was exempt from conscription into the confederate military. However, towards the end of the war Agnew is forced to accept the political changes that were taking place in the south. He was forced to accept the freedom of all slaves who toiled in his family’s large plantation upon the defeat of the south by the north. This happened when the federal troops set upon his family’s plantation and enforced the Emancipation Proclamation that sought to free all slaves (Ash, p.82). John Robertson, on the other hand, a former confederate soldier tries to settle down and have a social life with a woman he had just met, but the unionists keep hunting him for a guerilla attack they accuse him of having participated in (Ash, p.121). He keeps being on the run even though there was political change in the south, as this change could not allow him to settle down peacefully yet. Cornelia also captures the political change that swept through the south. This is because being an avid supporter of the confederate she finds herself cast as a lone figure in the support of the confederate. She affirms this position when she says that she was “the master of cold stare, the condescending voice, the subtle insults” (Ash, p.154). Perhaps the greatest impact of the civil war, apart from the financial crisis, was the social impact of the war. With growing poverty, as a result of the war, many families had to pull together with the rest of the community in order to survive. This is illustrated by Cornelia during the war when she had to rely on the community in order for her and her children to survive by often obtaining food and clothing from the community. Through this support she was finally able to pull through and thank God for that support (Ash, p.205).
From the foregoing, it is quite evident that the slaves were not the only people in the South to experience real and dramatic change as a result of the Civil War.

Works cited
Ash V. Steven, A Year In The South 1865, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
Brooks E. Charles, ‘A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865’ Journal of Southern History, Vol.
70, 2004. Available at
Brown Joan, Southern Women and Children in the Civil War. Available at
Roberts Giselle, ‘Stephen V. Ash, A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865’ American Studies
International, Vol. 42, 2004. Available at Read More
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