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YANKEES IN ARMS: The Civil War as a Personal Experience Thomas R. Bright The composite Northern man-at-arms is said to have averaged five feet eight and one-fourth inches in height; he weighed one hundred forty-three and one-half pounds. Sixty percent were light in complexion, forty-five percent were blue-eyed, and thirty percent had brown hair. Some forty-eight percent of the Union soldiers had been farmers, with twenty-four percent listed as mechanics, sixteen percent as laborers, five percent as businessmen, three percent professional people, and four percent miscellaneous. All but one and one-half percent of the men were between 18 and 46 years of age on date of enlistment. The average age at time of enlistment was 25.8 years, and 76.57 percent were under thirty years of age, with the largest group 18 to 22. Eighteen-year-olds made up 13.27 percent. However, there were recorded 127 of age 13, 330 age 14, and 2,366 fifteen-years old or older. —Allan Nevins1 The storm that broke over the United States in 1861 brought four years of death and destruction to the nation. Never before had such armies marched over the American countryside. With a total mobilization of resources demanded on both sides, almost every person in America was touched in one way or another by the great Civil War. No men were affected more directly, their lives more radically altered, than those who wore the uniforms of the Union and Confederate armies. This paper considers the effect of the war on two men. Both served the Union cause. Both were born in the same state. One was a farmer's son who enlisted at the age of twenty. The other was a lawyer, a professional man, who enlisted at twenty-nine. They had two entirely different experiences during the war, and they reacted to the conflict in different ways. Neither man in himself is representative of some "typical" war experience, but through the two soldiers' lives it is possible to gain some insight into the impact of the Civil War on the American fighting man. Arthur B. Carpenter was not quite twenty years old when he arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, in November, 1860. Born and raised in Monson , Massachusetts, a small farming community just east of Springfield, he had come West to stay with his uncle, Brigham Grout, and to find a trade and make a career for himself. Carpenter's first letters home were enthusiastic. He found Indianapolis to be a lovely city, full of fine houses and churches, and Indiana a state blessed with agricultural riches. ('Tell Homer -)- Frank that chestnuts grow 4 times as large here as ? Allan Nevins, The War for the Union (New York, 1959-1970), II, 130. 197 198civil war history East, apples as large and fair, mellow -)- good flavored.") Carpenter's approval of Indianapolis was not unqualified, however. A true New Englander, he could not help thinking that the West as a place to live was no match for the East with its "more comforts, better markets, Better Society and better everything."2 Still, he was happy enough in Indianapolis to feel that, providing he found a good business to settle down to, he could make Indiana his new home. Arthur Carpenter had no way of knowing, but events in places far removed from Indianapolis were transpiring in such a way as to dash his plans for a tranquil future. Just a few days before Carpenter's arrival in Indianapolis, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois had been elected President of the United States. His election set into motion forces that eventually led eleven southern states to secede from the Union in the first months of 1861. Even before secession occurred, the sectional conflict was having an impact in Indianapolis . Most of the banks in the city were secured by southern bonds, and the secessionist movement undermined the bonds and made it impossible for them to be redeemed. As a result, by the end of December money was scarce and times getting hard. The people were girding themselves to meet any emergency. The scent of war was in the air and rumors, usually...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 197-218
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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