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Soldiers North and South

The Everyday Experiences of the Men Who Fought America's Civil War

Paul A. Cimbala

Publication Year: 2010

The American Civil War was an extraordinary event. It was a military, political, social, and constitutional milestone that shaped the nation's understanding of unity and freedom, if imperfectly, into the next century. No American war was so essential to defining what America was and should become. By exploring how and why Northern and Southern men rallied to their flags, trained to be soldiers, lived in camp, marched to the fight, endured combat, and dealt with the aftermath of battle, we can appreciate how such a grand drama of national scope touched the lives of individuals, especially when we pay attention to what those participants had to say about their experiences. Despite the hardships of camp life and the horror of battle, most of these men stayed on in the ranks to do a difficult job. They were not always eager combatants, but the most heroic of them swallowed hard, offered a prayer, overcame their fear, and charged into the enemy's guns. Importantly, their stories did not end with the final surrender of Confederate forces. The soldiers could not shake off their wartime experiences with the conclusion of combat. Thus, we also need to pay attention to their transition to peace and how they created the memories that they nurtured into their old age. Soldiers North and South is an attempt to understand why the men in the United States and Confederate armies made the sacrifices that theydid and how fighting the war shaped their lives even as a reunited America tried to come to grips with itsconsequences.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-xi

The American Civil War was an extraordinary event. It was a military, political, social, and constitutional milestone that shaped that nation’s understanding of unity and freedom, if imperfectly, into the present century. No American war—not the Revolutionary War, not the Great War...

Timeline

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pp. xiii-xix

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1. A Bloody Citizen's War

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pp. 1-37

At the outset of America’s Civil War, necessity and tradition prompted both Northern and Southern governments to rely on local initiative to raise the troops they needed. The United States had a regular army, which the federal government kept whole throughout the war. However...

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2. Filling the Ranks

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pp. 39-57

Martial enthusiasm spread through the Upper South in the wake of the surrender of Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call to put down the rebellion. Meetings, rallies, and calls to arms brought out the men in numbers that would certainly dampen the confidence of Yankee aggressors. Those men...

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3. The Men in the Ranks

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pp. 59-76

By the end of the war, perhaps 2.1 million men served in the armies of the United States for varying amounts of time, while upward toward 900,000 men had served in the Confederate forces. For the most part, these men were representative of the general demographics of their regions...

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4. Going Off to War

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pp. 77-95

In 1861, recruits did not expect to be away from home for long when they joined their companies, but they still prepared in some way to enter into their new way of life. Husbands bade farewell to wives and children, giving them instructions for conducting home life and business while...

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5. Daily Camp Life

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pp. 97-125

As time passed and the war did not end as quickly as expected , the routines of camp life came to dominate much of the soldiers’ existence. Union and Confederate soldiers trained at camps closer to the front before they tasted combat and then returned to encampments after...

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6. Approaching Battle

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pp. 127-149

Lieutenant Thomas Galway of the Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry found all of the correspondence sent by soldiers to hometown newspapers that touted their eagerness to engage the enemy to be hogwash. Those “blatant asses in the ranks,” along with the usual journalistic crowd...

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7. Engaging the Enemy

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pp. 151-167

Often pickets, the trip wire of a defending army, made first contact with an advancing enemy, while attackers often sent out a forward guard. Skirmishers also preceded advancing columns perhaps a half to three-quarters of a mile to the front to “ ‘feel’ the enemy,” not knowing...

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8. The Aftermath of Battle

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pp. 169-196

Soldiers who had survived battle unscathed could not spend too much time dwelling on their good luck in the immediate aftermath of the fight. Hungry, thirsty, and tired , they had to answer to their basic needs. They also had to deal with the consequences of their work, which meant coping with...

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9. The Transition to Peace

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pp. 197-224

Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House sent waves of delirium through the ranks of the Army of the Potomac. Charles Mattocks had rejoined the army after being exchanged as a prisoner of war shortly before Lee’s surrender, but he now made clear that he did not regret...

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Epilogue: Veterans' Connections With Their Past

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pp. 225-237

Almost from the surrender of Confederate forces, veterans talked , argued , and wrote about the events of the war even as they set their sights on new endeavors. Southern veterans in particular were quick to defend their honor when challenged by insensitive...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 239-256

Index

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pp. 257-264


E-ISBN-13: 9780823248896
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823233922
Print-ISBN-10: 0823233928

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • United States. Army -- Military life -- History -- 19th century.
  • Confederate States of America. Army -- Military life.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Psychological aspects.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects.
  • Soldiers -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Soldiers -- Confederate States of America -- Social conditions.
  • Motivation (Psychology) -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
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