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From a pool of barely nine thousand men of military age, Nebraska—still a territory at the time—sent more than three thousand soldiers to the Civil War. They fought and died for the Union cause, were wounded, taken prisoner, and in some cases deserted. But Nebraska’s military contribution is only one part of the more complex and interesting story that James E. Potter tells in Standing Firmly by the Flag, the first book to fully explore Nebraska’s involvement in the Civil War and the war’s involvement in Nebraska’s evolution from territory to thirty-seventh state on March 1, 1867.
Although distant from the major battlefronts and seats of the warring governments, Nebraskans were aware of the war’s issues and subject to its consequences. National debates about the origins of the rebellion, the policies pursued to quell it, and what kind of nation should emerge once it was over echoed throughout Nebraska. Potter explores the war’s impact on Nebraskans and shows how, when Nebraska Territory sought admission to the Union at war’s end, it was caught up in political struggles over Reconstruction, the fate of the freed slaves, and the relationship between the states and the federal government.
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