The Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader

The Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader

The Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader

The Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader


In 1943, Bell Wiley's groundbreaking book Johnny Reb launched a new area of study: the history of the common soldier in the U. S. Civil War. This anthology brings together landmark scholarship on the subject, from a 19th century account of life as a soldier to contemporary work on women who, disguised as men, joined the army.

One of the only available compilations on the subject, The Civil War Soldier answers a wide range of provocative questions: What were the differences between Union and Confederate soldiers? What were soldiers' motivations for joining the army their "will to combat"? How can we evaluate the psychological impact of military service on individual morale? Is there a basis for comparison between the experiences of Civil War soldiers and those who fought in World War II or Vietnam? How did the experiences of black soldiers in the Union army differ from those of their white comrades? And why were southern soldiers especially drawn to evangelical preaching?

Offering a host of diverse perspectives on these issues, The Civil War Soldier is the perfect introduction to the topic, for the student and the Civil War enthusiast alike.

Contributors: Michael Barton, Eric T. Dean, David Donald, Drew Gilpin Faust, Joseph Allen Frank, James W. Geary, Joseph T. Glaatthaar, Paddy Griffith, Earl J. Hess, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Perry D. Jamieson, Elizabeth D. Leonard, Gerald F. Linderman, Larry Logue, Pete Maslowski, Carlton McCarthy, James M. McPherson, Grady McWhiney, Reid Mitchell, George A. Reaves, Jr., James I. Robertson, Fred A. Shannon, Maris A. Vinovskis, and Bell Irvin Wiley.


On the afternoon of April 12, 2000, South Carolina's state senators were debating what to do about the Confederate flag flying on top of the state capitol dome. They were intense but courteous in their dispute. Democrats did not accuse Republicans of being callous for wanting to fly an emblem that could be offensive, and Republicans did not call Democrats traitors for wanting to haul down a symbol of southern “heritage.” Pro-flag, white senators spoke of their “love” for their African American foes on the floor, while anti-flag, black senators assured their white opponents that they did not consider them racists. But their recognition of the importance of civility showed indirectly how divisive their disagreement was. Even though, as one Charleston senator said, April 12 happened to be, for his city, the anniversary of “the beginning and the end” of the war between the states, these legislators were showing that the conflict survived in them and their constituents. “There is more here than the flag,” said another senator.

What helped them settle their dispute was their remembering the soldiers who rallied 'round the flag. “His blood runs warm for the memory of those soldiers,” said one senator, praising a colleague willing to compromise. “You been at that cemetery with me, sweating in the heat in May, on Confederate Memorial Day,” he declared. in praise of his own forebears, he even quoted a northern warrior, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who said that southerners “fought as they were taught, true to such ideals as they saw.” the senator continued, “None of us want revenge, none of us want hate. We want an avenue that can . . .

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