Rich Man’s War
Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley

David Williams

How exploitation, oppression, and class conflict of poor southerners contributed to the Confederate loss of the Civil War


"Not simply an extended essay on the causes of Confederate defeat. It is also a detailed history of a southern region at war."
Journal of American History

"A well-written account of an important region that significantly enriches a collective social portrait of Confederate home fronts across the diverse and complex wartime South."
North Carolina Historical Review


In Rich Man's War historian David Williams focuses on the Civil War experience of people in the Chattahoochee River Valley of Georgia and Alabama to illustrate how the exploitation of enslaved blacks and poor whites by a planter oligarchy generated overwhelming class conflict across the South, eventually leading to Confederate defeat.

This conflict was so clearly highlighted by the perception that the Civil War was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight" that growing numbers of oppressed whites and blacks openly rebelled against Confederate authority, undermining the fight for independence. After the war, however, the upper classes encouraged enmity between freedpeople and poor whites to prevent a class revolution. Trapped by racism and poverty, the poor remained in virtual economic slavery, still dominated by an almost unchanged planter elite.

The publication of this book was supported by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission.

Page count: 328 pp.
17 b&w photos, 1 map
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25

Read more about Civil War dissent at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $36.95

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David Williams is a professor of history at Valdosta State University in Georgia.