Robert Schuweiler

5.0 out of 5 stars —  When Knowledge was Power

Like a prism refracts light or how a glass can magnify images, this pithy little book will cast a long shadow across your thoughts. The author has an ability to clarify troubling aspects of both causes and effects of the Civil War with an especial examination of the Hite family and the war’s impact on Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The author’s in-depth research of both the social standing and war records of the Hite family measures the cost of a southern agrarian society which utilized the lack of education as a barrier to power and social position. The author sets this up by illumination of context for people were living in this part of Virginia. Slavery was wealth under siege. One can feel the fear and the co-dependency from the very start. Denying education to control blacks, who were the engine of production, and as a social norm of “not being necessary” for whites whose time and attention was better served with managing agrarian matters resulted in unintended consequences. The Hite family seemed destined to die in numbers as consequence of both norms, with most enlistments being no higher than the rank of Corporal. It is profound how a family linked to the “first families of Virginia” could have such a small leadership roles and die in such numbers. The Civil War was truly a war about property, work, freedoms, and control. The resolution to those issues lead to war when no other system of exchange would do.