A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

Amanda Foreman

Language: English

Pages: 798

ISBN: 0375756965

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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In this brilliant narrative, Amanda Foreman tells the fascinating story of the American Civil War—and the major role played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle. Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of the Civil War. From the first cannon blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, they served as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses, blockade runners and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman introduces characters both humble and grand, while crafting a panoramic yet intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy. In the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on muddy fields and aboard packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions made, the beliefs held and contested, and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ultimately led to the reunification of America.

“Engrossing . . . a sprawling drama.”—The Washington Post

“Eye-opening . . . immensely ambitious and immensely accomplished.”—The New Yorker

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the secret negotiations were under way. It was another of Seward’s foreign military dinners: Colonel De Courcy, General Blenker and his aide de camp, Prince Felix Salm-Salm of Prussia, were also present. Poor Fanny Seward had taken a violent dislike to De Courcy: “He appeared very well as long as he kept still and did not say much at the dinner table,” she wrote. “But after dinner his brilliant capability of making himself disagreeable showed forth with undimmed luster. Added to being ill bred,

destruction continued throughout the day. Even Martha Washington’s tomb was ransacked and used for target practice. At night, the madness below seemed to be reflected in the sky—the Northern Lights had never been seen so far south, and bright-red tongues of light flickered and crackled over the soldiers’ heads. When dawn came, the rising sun revealed a remarkable change on the battle plain. Hardly a shred of blue remained. The dead had been stripped naked by Confederates seeking to exchange their

whose views on abolition and social reform coincided with his own. After he returned to America, they maintained their friendship. She saw Sumner as he wished to see himself: as a proud and tireless advocate of society’s victims. Sumner’s lack of experience or even understanding of basic political realities proved his undoing. In contrast to Seward, he was incapable of trimming his actions or modulating his speeches to suit political expediencies. Sumner abhorred compromise: “From the beginning

House of Commons and the House of Lords. The U.S. consuls described extraordinary scenes at public meetings. A resident of Liverpool, arguably the most pro-Southern city in Britain, recorded with surprise that the news “has turned all sympathy towards the North. Immense meetings on the subject have been held almost everywhere in England and the Queen herself has addressed a letter of condolence to Mrs. Lincoln.”36 Adams began to think that Lincoln had done more for Anglo-American relations by

… [have] attracted much attention in England,” Mason wrote to Benjamin. “Many enquiries have been made of me by our well-wishers whether I thought it would be done. It is considered by them with much favor as a measure … whilst in their opinion it would be a first step toward emancipation.” Mason reassured Benjamin that he had disabused them of the idea. ORN, ser. 2, vol. 3, p. 1258, Mason to Benjamin, January 21, 1865. 42. Robert W. Young, Senator James Murray Mason (Knoxville, Tenn., 1998), p.

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