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Brothers One and All

Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment

Mark H. Dunkelman

Publication Year: 2004

During the Civil War, the regiment was the fundamental component of armies both North and South, its reliability and effectiveness crucial to military success. Soldiers' devotion to their regiment—their esprit de corps—encouraged unit cohesion and motivated the individual soldier to march into battle and endure the hardships of military life. In Brothers One and All, Mark H. Dunkelman identifies the characteristics of Civil War esprit de corps and charts its development from recruitment and combat to the end of the war and beyond through the experiences of a single regiment, the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. Dunkelman offers a unique psychological portrait of a front-line unit that fought with distinction at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Valley, Rocky Face Ridge, and other engagements. He traces the evolution of natural camaraderie among friends and neighbors into a more profound sense of pride, enthusiasm, and loyalty forged as much in the shared unpleasantness of day-to-day army life as in the terrifying ordeal of battle.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents, Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

First and foremost, my sincere thanks go to the many descendants and friends of the 154th New York cited in the bibliography and illustration credits for sharing letters, diaries, memoirs, photographs, relics, and other materials with me. I wish I could name...

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Introduction: This Little Band

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pp. 1-12

On June 23, 1865, approximately 325 members of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry gathered before their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis D. Warner, at a military depot in Elmira, New York. The Civil War was over; the victorious Union armies were disbanding...

Part One: Home Ties

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pp. 13-71

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1. Demographics and Identity

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pp. 15-29

On the night of July 31, 1862, a crowd of more than three hundred citizens of East Otto, New York—about a quarter of the township’s population— jammed the Baptist church at a crossroads hamlet, filling the pews and blocking the aisles...

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2. Lines of Communication

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pp. 30-53

A pall, never to be lifted, fell over the Merrill homestead in Dayton on the news of the killing of Barzilla and Alva. Over the years of the war, many homes in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua would plunge into mourning on receiving similar tidings of death...

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3. Friends and Foes

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pp. 54-71

After receiving some sort of slight from townspeople in Yorkshire Center a few weeks after her husband left for the front, Mary Chittenden sat down to compose a sad letter. “I had my feelings hurt very much this morning,” she confided, “& O Wm. how my heart went forth to the absent one it seemed...

Part Two: War Ties

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4. Comrades, Cowards, and Survivors

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pp. 75-97

When he reached Atlanta and joined the 154th New York in the autumn of 1864, new recruit John Langhans immediately looked up an old friend from home, veteran soldier John Dicher. Two years had passed since they last saw each other, but they quickly rekindled...

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5. Enduring Hardships

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pp. 98-119

More than three hundred soldiers stood beside the stalwart eleven at the muster-out and discharge of the 154th New York. They too were survivors, and in many respects the ordeals they had endured exceeded in hardship the travails of the eleven who had stuck with the regiment throughout...

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6. On the Battlefield

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pp. 120-141

While the 154th New York was camped at Falmouth in December 1862, after only two months in the service, Captain Simeon V. Pool’s Company B was temporarily detached from the regiment to guard a battery. The artillerymen— veterans of several...

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7. The Wounded, Captured, and Dead

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pp. 142-169

With comradely compassion, soldiers instinctively extended a helping hand to the casualties of battle. Esprit de corps moved men to rescue wounded comrades from the battlefield, to visit and care for them in the hospital, and to notify loved ones of their condition...

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8. In Camp and Beyond

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pp. 170-204

The soldier’s life was not always clouded by the storms of hardship, battle, and death. Months at a time were spent in camp during the winters of 1862– 1863 and 1863–1864, and even the hyperkinetic General Sherman allowed his army occasional periods of rest during...

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9. Shoulder Straps and Courts-Martial

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pp. 205-225

An able, efficient, and respected officer corps was essential to regimental esprit de corps. The field and staff officers and company-grade line officers held the critical responsibilities of training, disciplining, and leading the enlisted men—and inspiring them by example in combat...

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10. Morale and Regimental Pride [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 226-247

The term esprit de corps is sometimes used as a synonym for morale. But while esprit de corps specifically refers to the spirit of loyalty and pride among the members of a group, morale generally signifies the psychological state of an individual or group in reaction to current...

Part Three: Veteran Ties

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pp. 249-277

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11. E. D. Northrup and the Betrayal of Esprit de Corps

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pp. 251-277

For the rest of their lives, until they were stooped and gray and wobbling over canes, Union veterans remained the Boys in Blue. As the years passed, they made excursions to their old battlefields, marched in parades and raised monuments in home towns to honor...


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pp. 279-313


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pp. 315-326


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pp. 327-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780807133859
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807131961

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War