Mark E. Neely, Jr. has won the annual George and Ann Richards Prize for the best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era for the 2016 volume year. Three members of the editorial board selected his article, “Guerrilla Warfare, Slavery, and the Hopes of the Confederacy” for the prize, which earns the recipient $1,000. The article appeared in the September issue.
Neely’s essay asks why the Confederacy did not turn to guerrilla warfare in the waning days of the Civil War and looks to Confederate national mythology for the answer. Neely argues that Confederate national identity was intimately bound up with the romantic myth of the yeoman partisan. Challenging the conclusions of historians who argue that southerners ultimately rejected guerrilla warfare for fear that it would undermine slavery, he counters that Confederate citizens evinced little fear that partisan warfare would put the South’s institutions, including slavery, at risk. Rather, the Confederacy’s military leadership did not resort to guerrilla warfare in the waning days of the conflict simply because they did not believe it was a viable strategy. The prize committee complimented Neely for revisiting this old debate in a creative and novel way and praised the essay as a “model article” that was “theoretically sophisticated and beautifully written.”
Mark E. Neely, Jr. is the emeritus McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including “Was the Civil War a Total War,” chosen as one of the top three articles published in the first 50 years of Civil War History, and The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (1991), which earned the Bell I. Wiley Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for history. His most recent book is Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War (2011). He currently is at work on a book on Confederate nationalism.
Awarded annually, the Richards Prize recognizes the generosity of George and Ann Richards, who have been instrumental in the growth of the Richards Civil War Era Center and in the founding of The Journal of the Civil War Era.