Book Review: Standing Firmly by the Flag: Nebraska Territory and the Civil War, 1861-1867


by James E. Potter

Lincoln: Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2013. Pp. xxiv, 376. Illus., maps, notes., biblio., index. $29.95 paper. ISBN: 0803240902

Potter, senior historian with the Nebraska State Historical Society, gives us a comprehensive look at the history of the Nebraska territory and its people in the era of the Civil War. 

Potted opens with the formation of the new territory and its experiences during the 1850s, the period of “Popular Sovereignty” and “Bleeding Kansas.”  He covers its early history and the economic, social, and political background of the early settlers, who numbered only about 28,000 when the Civil War erupted.  In the chapters which follow, Potter covers events year-by-year from 1861 and through 1867, when the State of Nebraska was formed, its population having doubled despite the war.   In each chapter, Potter covers military events, notably the operations of Nebraskan military forces (at their peak about five regiments), as well as political and other events in the territory, including economic growth, Indian troubles, and local politics.  While the work naturally is focused on developments involving Nebraska and Nebraskans, Potter fits these into the larger events of the times. 

Well written, Standing Firmly by the Flagis a readable and engaging account of the Civil War in an area hardly ever touched upon by most books on the subject, and will prove rewarding reading for anyone interested in America in the mid-nineteenth century.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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