Academic journal article Military Review

For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

Academic journal article Military Review

For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

Article excerpt

FOR CAUSE & COMRADES: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James M. McPherson, 237 pages. Oxford University Press, New York, 1997. $25.00.

For Cause & Comrades looks at the reasons why soldiers of both sides were motivated to enlist, remain and fight during one of America's bloodiest wars. James M. McPherson works within a broad framework of three distinct categories-initial motivation, sustaining motivation and combat motivation. The first consists of the reasons why men enlisted; the second addresses factorsof which there are many-that kept men in the army and, equally important, kept the army in existence; the third focuses on what created in men the ability to not only go into combat for the first time but what kept them going into battle time after time, in some cases for four years.

As the statistical basis for his conclusions, McPherson uses soldiers' original diaries and personal letters, not official regimental histories, memoirs, newspaper letters or any items that were initially intended for publication. Why? He believes such works "suffer from a critical defect: they were written for publication." Diaries and personal letters come as close as possible to conveying true feelings and events and, more important, address soldiers' emotions and motivations, which is at this book's heart. McPherson states, "Having read at least 25,000 personal letters. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.