Joan E. Cashin is a professor of history at Ohio State University, specializing in social, economic, and cultural history from the Revolution through the Civil War. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991); First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War (2006), winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York; and War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War (2018), winner of the Best Book Award from the Ohio Academy of History. She is also the editor of War Matters: Material Culture in the Civil War Era (2018); The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002); Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996); and Clotel, or the President's Daughter (1996), a novel by Williams Wells Brown.
The two armies had a tremendous impact on the material and physical environment of the wartime South. Because neither army was very good at supplying men in the field, soldiers turned to local resources to meet their needs for food, timber, and habitat. Soon a fierce contest broke out between armies and civilians over these resources, parallel to the struggle between the two armies. Civilians thought their survival was at least as important as any military objective. The war quickly turned into a total war, with an all-out struggle for material resources.