Rebecca Harding Davis’s Human Stories of the Civil War

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dr. Mark Canada, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
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Abstract: The decades leading up to the Civil War were fabulously rich ones for American literature—an “American Renaissance” in the words of literary scholar F. O. Matthiessen. During this era, some of the nation’s writers—notably Harriet Beecher Stowe, but also Henry David Thoreau and John Greenleaf Whittier— weighed in on the wedge that was driving North and South apart. One American writer, Rebecca Harding, known today by her married name, Rebecca Harding Davis, had an intimate acquaintance with the war, and she did not have to leave home to acquire it. When the war began in 1861, she was living in the city of Wheeling, then still a part of Virginia. Wheeling lay in a border region, and people in this part of the country had an uncommon perspective on the conflict. Harding wrote, “We occupied the place of Hawthorne’s unfortunate man who saw both sides.” As an author who lived with the Civil War at close hand, Rebecca Harding Davis not only “saw both sides” but also saw the sordidness of the war and of the men—and women—involved in it. This intimacy with the war naturally led to a great deal of knowledge about its incidents and participants, as well as some serious reflection about motivations and consequences. Davis covered the Civil War from the position of a reporter on the ground, one who saw the devastation as it occurred; but rather than cover the battles themselves, as newspapers were doing, she chose to explore the human stories behind and around the war.

Additional Information

Southern Cultures, v.19 (3), Fall 2013
Language: English
Date: 2013
Journalism, Women Journalists, American Authors, American Women Authors, American Literature, Essayists, Reporters, Civil War, Human Interest Stories, United States History
Davis, Rebecca Harding, 1831-1910
Civil War, 1861-1865

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