Behind the Battle Lines

Paperwork of the Civil War
November 19, 2013 to July 11, 2014

 Confederate Bond Coupons, Civil War Collection, Mss. 39.1 C76


"A thin but firm rank of historians have always insisted that the most significant events of the period happened quietly behind the battle lines, away from the sound of trumpet and drums."  Emory Thomas, Confederate State of Richmond  (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971, p. vii)


Conducting a war is one of the most complicated adventures a civilization can undertake. And the nascent Confederacy not only had to wage war, it had to create a governmental infrastructure as well.

While the maxim that an army marches on its stomach is true, it is equally true that an army marches on its paperwork. In modern armies, the ratio of combat to non-combat components is referred to as the “Tooth-to-Tail Ratio.” And while that ratio has changed throughout the years, the armies of the would-be Confederate nation and those of the United States were backed by both military and civilian clerks and bureaucrats galore. This exhibit displays examples of Union and Confederate paperwork considered necessary by both sides to conduct the war, including bonds, muster rolls, death certificates, quartermaster forms, and passes.


Images of the exhibit are available from Swem Library on Flickr.

Curator: Susan Riggs, Manuscripts and Rare Books Librarian; Exhibit Design: Jennie Davy, Burger Archives Specialist, with assistance from Andrew Cavell, SCRC Graphics Assistant, and Anna Wallace, Undergraduate Student Assistant.