For Cause and Comrades Why Men Fought in the Civil War General John A Wickham commander of the famous st Airborne Division in the s and subsequently Army Chief of Staff once visited Antietam battlefield Gazing at Bloody Lane where in sever

  • Title: For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War
  • Author: James M. McPherson
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 473
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • General John A Wickham, commander of the famous 101st Airborne Division in the 1970s and subsequently Army Chief of Staff, once visited Antietam battlefield Gazing at Bloody Lane where, in 1862, several Union assaults were brutally repulsed before they finally broke through, he marveled, You couldn t get American soldiers today to make an attack like that Why did thosGeneral John A Wickham, commander of the famous 101st Airborne Division in the 1970s and subsequently Army Chief of Staff, once visited Antietam battlefield Gazing at Bloody Lane where, in 1862, several Union assaults were brutally repulsed before they finally broke through, he marveled, You couldn t get American soldiers today to make an attack like that Why did those men risk certain death, over and over again, through countless bloody battles and four long, awful years Why did the conventional wisdom that soldiers become increasingly cynical and disillusioned as war progresses not hold true in the Civil War It is to this question why did they fight that James McPherson, America s preeminent Civil War historian, now turns his attention He shows that, contrary to what many scholars believe, the soldiers of the Civil War remained powerfully convinced of the ideals for which they fought throughout the conflict Motivated by duty and honor, and often by religious faith, these men wrote frequently of their firm belief in the cause for which they fought the principles of liberty, freedom, justice, and patriotism Soldiers on both sides harkened back to the Founding Fathers, and the ideals of the American Revolution They fought to defend their country, either the Union the best Government ever made or the Confederate states, where their very homes and families were under siege And they fought to defend their honor and manhood I should not lik to go home with the name of a couhard, one Massachusetts private wrote, and another private from Ohio said, My wife would sooner hear of my death than my disgrace Even after three years of bloody battles, than half of the Union soldiers reenlisted voluntarily While duty calls me here and my country demands my services I should be willing to make the sacrifice, one man wrote to his protesting parents And another soldier said simply, I still love my country McPherson draws on than 25,000 letters and nearly 250 private diaries from men on both sides Civil War soldiers were among the most literate soldiers in history, and most of them wrote home frequently, as it was the only way for them to keep in touch with homes that many of them had left for the first time in their lives Significantly, their letters were also uncensored by military authorities, and are uniquely frank in their criticism and detailed in their reports of marches and battles, relations between officers and men, political debates, and morale For Cause and Comrades lets these soldiers tell their own stories in their own words to create an account that is both deeply moving and far truer than most books on war Battle Cry of Freedom, McPherson s Pulitzer Prize winning account of the Civil War, was a national bestseller that Hugh Brogan, in The New York Times, called history writing of the highest order For Cause and Comrades deserves similar accolades, as McPherson s masterful prose and the soldiers own words combine to create both an important book on an often overlooked aspect of our bloody Civil War, and a powerfully moving account of the men who fought it.

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    One Reply to “For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War”

    1. By studying tens of thousands of representative letters and diaries written by combatants in the American Civil War author McPherson has attempted to understand what motivated Unionists and Confederates to go to war, to stay at war and to participate in battle. What, in other words, did they think they were doing?The most notable overall impression I obtained from this was that the primary initial motivation of those devoted to the North was to preserve the Union while that of the Southerners wa [...]

    2. James McPherson is a fine historian. Many of his works on the Civil War are impressive. This ranks among his more interesting works—and makes a contribution in its own right.The book is an effort to find the answer to a fundamental question (Page 5): “What enabled [Civil War soldiers:] to overcome that most basic of human instincts—self-preservation?” More basically (Page 5): “Why did Civil War soldiers do it?” The book, then, focuses on a fundamental question about those fighting in [...]

    3. It's over 150 years since the American Civil War ended and it's still a contentious subject. Dozens of new books about it are written every year and I feel sure thousands have been written about it. One of the things people didn't agree on when it was being fought was why it was being fought. Unsurprisingly, this question continues to be discussed today. This book from Oxford University Press looks at why men fought the war. It goes beyond the typical sources of books and looks at diaries and th [...]

    4. Although Professor James McPherson wrote this study of the motivation of the Civil War soldier, it is not a great exaggeration to say that in this book the soldiers speak for themselves. Professor McPherson has read and analyzed a prodigious amount of source material written by Civil War combatants, Union and Confederacy, officer and enlisted soldier. For this book, he has taken a sample of the letters home and the diaries of 1076 soldiers, 647 Union and 429 Confederate to analyze their candid, [...]

    5. Why did people fight in the War of Northern Aggression? Why did people fight in the War of Southern Secession? Why did they sign up, where did they find the courage for their first battle, why did they stay after they realized that death is real and messy? Did people really fight 'to end slavery'? How could slave-owners claim to be fighting for liberty? What did the folks back home - wives, parents, kids - think about the main bread-earner risking his life for Mr Lincoln's War?Is "well, everyone [...]

    6. I really appreciated the scholarly effort that went into this piece by a reknowned historian. The piece, in a way, humanizes the soldiers of both sides, drawing on their personal letters and journals. I was actually directed to the book by someone seeking to counter the argument that preserving slavery was a key motivation of the civil war. However, the book really doesn't do much in that direction. While the author does explore how young men were often driven to enlist for reasons of honor, in [...]

    7. This book was really interesting! I learned a lot about the Civil War. Three future presidents fought in the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, and Rutherford B. Hayes. Grant and McKinley fought on the same side and in the same regiment. The men who fought in the Civil War were more religious men than the men who fought in other wars. Some of the men were quite racist in their descriptions of slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was announced during the Civil War, and it led many me [...]

    8. This is really great for when you get into arguments with someone about having read skewed sources about why the Civil War was fought. Primary sources, yo! (I forgot to add this book to GR until now, after getting into said argument.)

    9. Re-read as I approach the Civil War in my military history class, this is a rich collation and analysis of a huge variety of letters and diaries from both sides of the Civil War, showing both a unique 19th century mindset, as well as a kind of universality of experience borne out by WWII social science questionnaires. I'd also like to put this in the hands of, or rather, upside the head of, the next person who tells me that Confederates were all about states rhats. Yes, indeed, the rhat to howl [...]

    10. McPherson has written another great book on the American Civil War, a keen interest of mine. If you are interested in the war only in passing and want to read only one nonfiction book on the topic, read his heavy duty Pulitzer winner, Battle Cry of Freedom. However, if like me you have read it and been thirsty for more, and had other writers sometimes come up lacking, this is a wonderful choice. For me, though I have read books about this battle or that one, they are not as compelling as getting [...]

    11. It had never occurred to me before, but there is more first-hand information about why men fought in the Civil War than there is for any other conflict. Many more soldiers were literate than ever before, and in later wars the letters home were censored. McPherson combed through thousands of letters and diaries, and turned up some surprising insights.Both Yankees and Rebels, for instance, thought they were fighting to uphold the values of the American Revolution. Many northerners thought secessio [...]

    12. For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought In The Civil War, by James M. McPhersonIn this book, noted Civil War historian James McPherson provides a work that demonstrates the potential of statistical analysis in history and the combination of social and military history when handled skillfully by someone with a full respect for the texts and the people who wrote them. This particular volume seeks to use the voluminous letter writing and unpublished diaries of Civil War soldiers on both sides to p [...]

    13. A very interesting and enlightening study of why men decided to fight and continued to fight as the war raged on for 4 long years. To read the letters and the diary entries of the soldiers who did the fighting is invaluable to my study of why and how Americans reached the point of being willing to kill and die for their various causes. How could the children and grandchildren of the Fathers of the Revolution take up arms against one another and endure hell on earth to fight for such different re [...]

    14. It's a little dry reading a bunch of excerpts of letters, but it's worth it to really understand the soldiers' motivations. The war was about slavery and union. Soldiers were remarkably aware of politics and had daily discussions in camp.

    15. Great summation of the war The american civil war was a constant barrage of battles fought by Americans on both sides. This novel is a great summation of the war based in diaries and letters from soldiers on both sides. While it often times praised the wives' position at home, and the northern side, it was a generally balanced perspective. I most definitely plan to read this again, and will probably pick up more the second time around.

    16. I enjoyed this book: part history, part political philosophy, part sociology and anthropology. Arguably a propagandist's "How to" manual for inspirational rhetoric. As McPherson summarizes on page 131, "Convictions of duty, honor, patriotism, and ideology functioned as the principal sustaining motivations of Civil War soldiers, while the impulses of courage, self-respect, and group cohesion were the main sources of combat motivation."The book offers a window into the thinking of America's citize [...]

    17. James McPherson's book examines why Civil War soldiers fought the Civil War in three ways. First, he looks at primary motivations, or what influenced men to sign up. Second, he analyzes sustaining motivations, or what motivated soldiers to keep going through the hardest periods of the war. Finally, he looks at combat motivations, or what enabled them to fight rather than flee. In all of these areas, he focuses on ideological and social motivations over incentives and coercive structures. McPhers [...]

    18. I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend reading this after you've read a good number of civil war books. Would have given 5 stars but it is a little dry.

    19. About half the men in most regiments did all the serious fighting. Others were shirkers or in bomb-proof jobs.At the beginning of the war, men volunteered to prove their manhood, they were anxious for a fight. They were loyal to their region. In the South they saw it as state-rights and to repulse the Yankee invaders. In the North they saw firing on the US flag as treasonous and wanted to teach the rebels a lesson. The North was fighting for the union. Once admit that a state can secede at will, [...]

    20. Noted historian James McPherson's "For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War" is a fairly academic study of why men fought in the civil war, obviously. It reads a bit like a college thesis with the main points split up amongst the dozen chapters. This is not meant to be a criticism, however, because McPherson has certainly done his homework. He writes in the preface that he took a one year sabbatical from his teaching position at Princeton and read primary documents from over 1,000 [...]

    21. During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I've been reading more books on the period. McPherson's book is an excellent description of the motivations of the soldiers for North and South to join their cause and to stay and fight despite mind-numbing casualties. No one can doubt here that for both sides the conflict mushroomed quickly into a fight to the finish. For each, failure meant the death of liberty. The letters of the combatants on each side are powerful and personal. Despite military [...]

    22. The one thing that I learned from this book, is what we have lost as a country and as a people. Throughtout the book you see examples of the idealism of both the union and Rebel soldiers, and the fact that they fought for what they each believed in. Carry this forward to present times and you immediately notice that the country is no longer that country that was in existence during those troubling and hard times. Other than the brave men and women that fight for us and protect our freedom in our [...]

    23. For Cause and Comrades by James McPherson is a definitive study of why men choose to fight in the Civil War. Taking diaries and letters from over 1000 soldiers and representing as broad a group as possible that made up the armies on either side he paints a picture of what life was like and why these men did what they did. While about 1/3 of Confederates owned slaves those who initially picked up the call to action did so out of a belief in states rights although as northern attitudes hardened to [...]

    24. The author studies the underlying factors that motivated Civil War combatants to carry on in the face of adversity. What gave these soldiers the will to fight and how (if at all) do they differ in this regard from U.S. soldiers in later wars? McPherson conducts a survey; both North and South, of soldiers’ letters home and supports his claims with statistical evidence. The result of his analysis is that the Civil War was conducted by a culture with high ideals. These were men who were committed [...]

    25. I originally read this while an undergrad and read it again as a grad student in an Historical Studies program. The Civil War is my favorite time period in American history so I probably had a bias towards this book even before reading it the first time. However, reading this taught me much about the variety of reasons that the actual soldiers were fighting in the war and why they had decided to join up. I think it should be required reading for students and teachers at any level when learning a [...]

    26. Basically McPherson takes on the arguments made by Wiley and Linderman, saying that ideology was an important sustaining mechanism to the troops, espcially the best warriors to wear blue and gray. While I applaud McPherson's argument and willingness to take on two authors whom he praised before writing this book, I also contend that the truth probably lies in a blending of all their work. McPherson suggests this by agreeing with Wiley and Linderman on some of their points, but like any historian [...]

    27. This is a pretty interesting book about Civil War soldiers and why they fought. McPherson's thesis is that because they lived in a politically-active pre-cynicism era and were mostly volunteers (rather than regulars or conscripts), the soldiers on both sides of the Civil War were highly motivated by patriotism, duty/honor, and political ideology throughout the war.I have read enough about the Civil War that I didn't find anything in the book especially surprising, but it is good to see soldiers' [...]

    28. I didn't love this book. Although it's a good introduction to why 19th century men joined the Union and Confederate army, the book felt a bit too broad for its own good. McPhearson quotes soldiers' letters and diaries throughput the work. He also draws on 20th c research into combat motivation. I found that his comparisons to contemporary (or, contemporary c 1997) wars to be both the most interesting and least sustainable part of his argument-- especially related to combat stress. Though he clea [...]

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