Across the Divide
Union Soldiers View the Northern Home Front
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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“The people up North do not know what war is,” John Brobst, a Union Army private from Wisconsin, wrote a friend. “If they were to come down here, they would soon find out the horror of war.”1 Brobst spoke for many Union soldiers during the Civil War who held views of their own families, communities...
1. “Such a Dirty Set of Creatures”: The Divide between Union Soldiers and Civilians
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Most of the Union soldiers who went off to war in 1861 had no concept of what they were about to experience. There were certainly military conflicts in the recent past, but nothing that involved large numbers of inexperienced volunteers. Clashes with Native Americans and the recent war with Mexico...
2. “A Land of All Men and No Women”: Soldiers and the Gender Divide
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The Civil War created any number of divides between soldiers and the civilians they left behind. The most personal one, however, was the gender divide between Union soldiers and Northern women. Northern men went off to war with a well-defined concept of gender roles. Changes in the..
3. “This Is an Abolition War”: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Purpose of War
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In the first months of the Civil War, there were few more frightening terms than “abolition war.” Such a war to end slavery threatened to change the country in unforeseeable ways. Whether the Civil War was an abolition war was thus a critical question in itself, and the debate over this question plunged to...
4. “A Sin to Join the Army”: The Debate over Conscription
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Citizen-soldiers, civilians temporarily acting as soldiers in response to their respective nation’s call, fought the battles of the Civil War. The standing Regular Army played its part, but the mass of the Union Army came from civilians who donned a uniform and shouldered a weapon in the nation’s service...
5. “The Ranting of the Black-Hearted Villains”: Soldiers and the Anti-War Movement
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In March 1863, Henry Haven, a former Captain in the 23rd Ohio and resident of Bedford, Ohio, wrote to the local Provost Marshal: “Sir, I have the honor to inform you that an organization for the purpose of resisting the Conscription has recently been formed in this place.” Describing meetings where residents...
6. “The Sky of Our Political Horizon”: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln
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There were few ”real” soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. “Real” soldiers meant the Regular Army, with the standing army numbering only a few thousand at the start of the conflict, led by their largely West Point–educated officers. The majority of soldiers were, instead, citizen/soldiers, volunteers in...
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Although wartime divides isolated soldiers from civilian communities, differences of opinion soon vanished, making the soldier/civilian divide a lost narrative of the Civil War. Wartime debates caused major divisions between Union soldiers and the civilian communities around them, but the divisions...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013