Judges Collective Comments:
“This humongous volume is chook full of interesting historical data from the Civil War era. It contains well-documented stories that give great insight as to what daily life was for the civilian population during the war, and the role women played. Chapters were extensive and it is evident that data was compiled by an astute historian whose range and scope of the era were infinite.
McKean chronicled Civil War letters written home that tugged at the heart, and it was easy to see that the soldiers wanted to come home and their families wanted them home. Heartache was felt as loved ones and friends were killed or died, and the strength of those left behind was called to light.
The chapter pertaining to slaves, free blacks, and the underground railroad was extremely interesting as it explained how the different religious affiliations looked upon slavery; manumission, human conditions, treatment of slaves, laws regarding slaves, runaways, slave hired out, slaves acting as spies, customs, slaves being taught to read and write, living conditions, Negro auctions, emancipation, Negroes dealing with Federal soldiers, well-known slaves, free persons of color,…all were discussed and thoroughly. This was a truly informative chapter!
McKean includes the Home Guard and Militia which she considers a ‘love-hate’ relationship. She explains why, then she moves on the Wilmington, blockade-runners and Fort Fisher…very informative.
Caught in the middle deals with stories about people actually ‘caught in the middle,’ living or being in areas where battles took place yet they had no involvement with them unless they were drawn in…most unwillingly. Towns/cities covered were: Averasboro, Bentonville, Kinston, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Washington (NC), Salisbury, the Mountain regions…then we learn of what happened when the inhabitants of these areas fought back….we are not talking about soldiers fighting back, we are speaking of the home guard and the citizens fighting to protect themselves and what was theirs.
The least said about General Sherman, the best said; however McKean chronicles his marches through NC and tells of the places that were burned, people that were killed, records and property that were destroyed. He is known as the ‘foul fiend’ and ‘the great incendiary.’ This chapter brought a lot of comments by our panel, especially with regard to the genealogical and historical records that were destroyed by his army that might be tremendously [useful] to us today and for future generations.
The oral histories made a profound impact on us, too, like adding meat to the bones. Reading what happened during the war from people who actually lived through it or were related to those living through it, was riveting and often emotional. We were thrilled to see that the author included humorous true stories as the last chapter in this volume. A nice move on her part.
Lastly, we are served with an extensive Appendix, Endnotes section, Bibliography section, a List of Abbreviations, a Primary Source section, and a complete, helpful index.
Kudos, Ms. McKean, for a monumental job well done!”
In May 2014, I won the “Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal Certificate” presented by the Johnston Pettigrew 95 Chapter, North Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy for both volumes of Blood and War at my Doorstep: North Carolina Civilians in the War between the States.”
"We found this to be an extremely fascinating book from all angles. It is a comprehensive guide to what people on the home front did during the Civil War years, how they survived, and how some even 'participated' in the war. We see the lady-like Southern bell blossom as she takes on new roles in order to assist in the war effort: nurse, spy,.sometimes, soldier. We learn of hidden strengths that the ware brought to the surface under all types of social situations; burdens they suffered; injustices and embarrassments.
In taking a look at women's roles during this war, we also see how the males reacted; how a brutal society changed to adapt to the change the women had to make.one vicious circle. This book deals with every aspect of thee changes and more.
The book has been written by an astute historian; a historian who is aware of the importance to document/cite sources. And, although in a book of this magnitude it would be a monumental task, this author has taken the time to provide the researcher with a marvelous, detailed Appendix; some of the most impressive endnotes we have ever seen; a mammoth Bibliography section; a list of abbreviations used throughout the book; a phenomenal 'Primary Source' section; and a (tad a) marvelous, helpful index. This book has EVERYTHING and is definitely geared toward the researcher; however, it is a must for anyone interested in the War Between the States.or anyone just wanting a good book to read. 5 STARS!!"