James M. McPherson. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. xviii, 237 pp., illustrations, index.

In every war, combat soldiers leave family and lovers to crawl through unspeakably mangled human flesh in mud and blood. When soldiers go into battle, their hearts pound, their palms sweat, their stomachs turn, their sweat turns cold, their hands can tremble, they sometimes lose control of their bladders and bowels. In battle they see "the full complement of backs broken in two, of arms twisted wholly off; of men impaled upon their own bayonets; of legs smashed up like bits of firewood; of heads sliced open like apples, of other heads crunched into jelly by iron hoofs of horses." [1] When war moves through a place, it leaves a terrible residue. In Vicksburg, the "innumerable graves all about these parts, of soldiers and blacks" buried "so shallow as to emit an exceeding[ly] offensive smell," shocked travelers and attracted crows a full year after that city fell to Union forces. [2] The horrors soldiers face focus the mind, making political debate less abstract.

Soldiers must search their souls for the courage to do appalling things. And Civil War soldiers did things no modern soldier would do, throwing themselves into suicidal attacks against impossible objectives. To find the wellsprings of Civil War valor, James McPherson has read 249 diaries and at least 25,000 letters of 1,076 Civil War soldiers. "It would be close to the truth," he writes, "to say that Civil War soldiers wrote" For Cause and Comrades."They articulated their motives for fighting far above my poor power to add or detract" (vii). [3] Civil War soldiers were more literate than any previous generation of warriors. Their scribbled diaries and Page  [End Page 85] letters home crowd the shelves of state archives. Brown ink on yellowing paper records the thoughts of sweating men paused along roads on the way to war. Sometimes they jotted down their thoughts in the midst of battle, crouching behind a tree just before or after an attack. These passages have the power of immediacy; their authors might die at any moment. Where the words end and the blank pages begin can mark a moving realization for the researcher comfortably seated in a modern archives. These soldiers wanted to articulate to families back home their understandings of war and why they fought. The record they left behind is intimate, personal, and private—authentic. McPherson came to feel he genuinely knew many Civil War soldiers better than most of his living acquaintances.

But while soldiers honestly worked hard to get their feelings accurately down on paper, sometimes even they had trouble figuring it all out. Soldiers quarreled with messmates; captors challenged their prisoners' ideas. When northerners insisted they fought only for a legal principle, preservation of the government, Confederates would not believe it. [4] And the sheer volume of writing challenges easy conclusions. With so many thousands of men writing, struggling to explicate the meaning of their war, no single, clear sentiment stands out.

Since the Civil War, Americans have sought answers to the same questions argued in those long-ago camps. Battlegrounds were only briefly places where soldiers fought; they have a much longer history as places where visitors struggle to understand what happened and what it meant. Tourists visiting Civil War battlefields today encounter bicyclists and joggers gliding by smoothly mowed green meadows and vales. It is hard to picture such parks as battlefields. At Vicksburg, the locals warn visitors that without a guide providing narration, the trip along Confederate and Union avenues is "just a pretty drive." The ground is blank, really, waiting for visitors to supply the meaning.

The first scholars to look hard at the question of why Civil War soldiers fought did so in an intellectual world where America's Page  [End Page 86] bureaucratically organized military had gone to war against the ethical relativism of fascism. Returning GIs talked of snafus, SOPs, and "catch-22." The power of organizations, value-neutral bureaucracies, impressed intellectuals and scholars alike in the 1950s. Books like William Whyte's Organization Man seized the popular imagination. [5] Business historians in the "organizational school" no longer easily accused robber barons of exploiting the working classes; instead, indifferent technology created a context no one could control. Legal writers in the "process school" insisted that neutral principles should guide judges. The secret of good judging lay in finding the right procedures—not in ideology.[6] World War II soldiers agreed that ideology mattered little. They told interviewers that they fought for their buddies, not for flag and country. "There's no patriotism on the line," one GI said, "A boy up there 60 days on the line is in danger every minute. He ain't fighting for patriotism" (90). Such sentiments precisely reflected—or inspired—the prevailing intellectual paradigm.

This reaction against ideology seemed all the more plausible because it reflected an obvious truth. All soldiers in all wars do care less about abstract ideology and patriotic flag-waving than politicians back home. As Civil War soldiers marched toward battle, thoughts not all that different from the feelings of Roman legionnaires, World War I doughboys, or soldiers in the Persian Gulf war crowded their minds. Every soldier in any war fights to avoid being seen as a coward by his fellow warriors. Fighting to save a few close friends can prove a more immediate and powerful motivator than such abstract ideals as flag and country.

This insight is so obviously and powerfully true that it has long influenced writers and scholars. Bell Irvin Wiley published The Life of Johnny Reb in 1943 and The Life of Billy Yank in 1952. By the time he had completed these books, Wiley had read thirty thousand sol- Page  [End Page 87] diers' letters and several hundred diaries. For all his prodigious research, Wiley could find only superficial differences between Confederates and Yankees. Northern soldiers were more literate, less religious, better educated, and more political than southerners. But the similarities far outweighed the differences, Wiley concluded. No wonder the two sides fraternized, bantering across lines. Wiley noted that after some battles opposing armies intermingled to bury their dead. In at least one instance, Confederates borrowed Union army shovels. [7]

More recent scholars have made the same point. In 1987 Gerald Linderman published Embattled Courage, concluding that the Civil War hardened soldiers on both sides, stripping away whatever patriotic, ideological motives they had in the first years.[8] McPherson describes Linderman's book as "thesis-driven," which he means as gentle criticism, as if Linderman was not quite objective. Two other historians, Joseph Allan Frank and George Reaves, are a bit more pointed in their criticism of Linderman, writing that he used only "some fifty-odd soldiers' reminiscences, mainly published memoirs of upper class, highly educated individuals." In the end, though, Frank and Reaves agree that actual combat "muted" the ideological motivations soldiers initially carried into battle. [9] Wiley, Linderman, Frank, and Reaves all argue what is obviously true. Soldiers in all wars discover the brutal reality of combat.

The revolt against romanticism inspired by World War II influenced Wiley but so too did ideas he could less easily comprehend. Wiley wrote before the civil rights awakening of the 1950s and 1960s. Histories of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction written before the civil rights era are strikingly different from those composed during and after that tumultuous time. In 1906, the historian James Ford Rhodes expressed wonderment that anyone could advocate enfranchising "such a mass of ignorance" as African Americans.[10] A year later William Dunning called federal efforts to protect black rights "a far-reaching despotism."[11] In such Page  [End Page 88] frankly racist times, the notion of the Civil War as a crusade for racial equality seemed ridiculous.

The rival myths that northerners and southerners developed about the Civil War measure the state of American race relations. Some northerners denied southern distinctiveness, insisted on national unity, and called southerners' regionalism a "myth." They followed Andrew Johnson who had resisted congressional Reconstruction efforts by claiming southern states had never really seceded. [12] Northerners became quite comfortable with a fiction: there was no North and certainly no South. White northerners adopted those features of southern culture they liked. So, since northerners admired the streak of rebelliousness manifest in the South, they made it a characteristic of all Americans. After 1880, Union veterans increasingly socialized with their former enemies, holding joint blue-gray memorial services. In this period, northerners found they could distinguish southerners' admirable traits, their "manly daring," from the evil disloyalty of their treason.[13] Later, a high school in Chicago chose the "Rebel" as its mascot. The heroes of a 1980s network television program piloted a car called the "Robert E. Lee." White America was one nation, indivisible and spunky. In this environment, historians of the North could ignore the South and still claim to write the history of America. [14]

This unification narrative played an important role in preparations for the Spanish-American War and World War I. Ex-Confederate and ex-Union veterans joined hands to promote national solidarity.[15] Hoping to unify the nation against the German enemy in Page  [End Page 89] World War I, Congress appropriated money for great blue-gray reunions, and the U.S. Army provided tents, transportation, and food. The Vicksburg Evening Post chronicled one event. The army officer assigned to organize logistics for the reunion held at Vicksburg predicted the gathering would promote patriotism "and that is what we need in war time" (Evening Post, Oct. 3, 1917). One Confederate veteran told his fellows, "I was in the Confederate army because I knew the cause was right, but now we are a reunited people and the common cause is right and we are for the United States" (Oct. 15, 1917). He could say that because the northerners seemed to have embraced essentially southern racial values. When black bands played Dixie, the crowd of veterans "went wild." Black waiters "cake walked" (Oct. 16, 1917).

Southern newspapers published drawings of elderly Union and Confederate veterans saluting young doughboys marching off to World War I (Vicksburg Evening Post, Oct. 15, 1917). One old veteran dutifully espoused the national patriotism expected of him: "If they would turn this company against the Germans we would make a showing, my boy. We fought once and could do it again" (Oct. 16, 1917). Newspapers reported that ex-Confederate and ex-Union soldiers camped in Vicksburg engaged in "brotherly chatter" (Oct. 16, 1917).

From our vantage point at the end of the twentieth century, we can see clearly that contemporaries exaggerated their picture of reconciled sections. Reading old newsprint carefully, the modern researcher can discern traces of discord amid the rage militaire. Unbrotherly chatter suggests that some of the veterans did not fully accept their new role as champions of national patriotism. The Vicksburg Evening Post admitted that some soldiers "refought the war" at the 1917 Vicksburg Reunion, their voices rising as they "sang the praises of favorite commanders" (Oct. 16, 1917). Tensions ran deeper than that. One old Union soldier refused to board a truck filled with his former enemies. "That wagon is full of Johnny- Page  [End Page 90] Rebs. They might throw me out," he exclaimed. Told it would cost a quarter to ride the taxi, he retorted, "I don't care if it costs $500. I won't trust myself with those Johnny-Rebs" (Oct. 16, 1917). In fact, the newspapers downplayed the real tensions at the camp. Some of the elderly veterans exchanged blows with their canes in what old Vicksburgers later called "the walking stick war." [16]

After World War I, tensions between North and South slowly reasserted themselves. The Montgomery bus boycott, the freedom rides, the Edmund G. Pettis Bridge, and Birmingham became the battlegrounds of the civil rights movement, monuments to the North's revitalized realization of southern distinctiveness. Northerners had to soften their own racism for this to happen. Before the 1950s the most sympathetic white historians could do no better than to depict African Americans as passive victims. The historian Joel Williamson concedes that he hardly knew of lynching before the mid-1960s.[17] As racism faded, the history changed. In 1988 Reid Mitchell described himself as "a post–desegregation-of-the-New-Orleans-public-school-system historian."[18] Historians of slavery and Reconstruction have revised their understandings of blacks' agency and the plight of freed slaves. Northern efforts to "reconstruct" the South once seemed too radical; now some scholars have found them fundamentally conservative.[19]

Some argue that the civil rights era proved extremely important in southern regionalism. Efforts to desegregate southern schools and break down barriers to black voting led white southerners to feel beleaguered and besieged. Whether this made them feel more "southern" is debatable, but it is true that in the 1950s and 1960s several southern states incorporated the Confederate battle flag into their state flags and hoisted the battle flags atop their state capitals. Public memories of Confederate rebels helped crystallize southerners' reaction to desegregation and equal rights. Page  [End Page 91]

Scholars have increasingly come to see the Confederacy as a symbol of evil linked to racism and slavery and northern troops as soldiers for freedom. Scholars began to find that ideology motivated Union and southern soldiers. Reid Mitchell insists that "whatever caused the Civil War, it was fought in the name of freedom."[20] Earl J. Hess argues strongly that ideology motivated northerners. The myth of the lost cause, he insists, romanticized what the North destroyed and "sapped the war for the Union of its moralistic implications." [21] Mark Grimsley joins Hess in seeking to restore those moralistic implications. His recent book, The Hard Hand of War, sees an evolution in soldiers' thinking as the war progressed. Instead of shedding their initial ideology, as Linderman claims, Grimsley's soldiers became more ideological. Union troops became more willing to inflict "hard war" on southern civilians.[22] Randall C. Jimerson writes that the North understood the war as a "holy crusade," fought to the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." He quotes a New Jersey soldier as saying, "God required obedience to law and order."[23] John Keegan writes, "The Blue and the Gray [were] the first truly ideological armies of history" (McPherson, 94)

As McPherson points out, his book comes in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War made some understandings of the Civil War experience untenable. Before Vietnam, southern boys asked their fathers if it was true the United States had never lost a war. We did lose one war, they explained, but it took four Yankees to beat one Confederate. Unquestionably, the North had a tremendous advantage over the South.[24] One county in Connecticut manufactured more firearms than the entire South. Only a quarter of the soldiers mobilized for the Civil War fought in grey uniforms. All of this once seemed sufficient to explain the outcome of the Civil War. But the Vietnam War changed that calculus, teaching that massive military advantage does not guarantee victory. Like World War II GIs, American soldiers in Vietnam dismissed patriotic rhetoric as a "crock" or "crap." But unlike the World War II genera- Page  [End Page 92] tion, they did not think all ideology was a "crock." Some believed their North Vietnamese foes "knew what they were fighting for" and that made a difference (McPherson, 91). The lesson could be generalized: soldiers with a cause won wars.

It is part of the genius of For Cause and Comrades that McPherson does not only argue that Civil War soldiers "knew what they were fighting for." A lesser writer might blithely report what Union soldiers "thought" as though the northern army represented an undifferentiated mass. McPherson knows soldiers thought many things; the immense variety of soldiers' experiences is evident in his book. He utilizes his first chapters to acknowledge the experiences that northern and southern Civil War soldiers shared with each other and with all warriors. In the first months of war, soldiers North and South exuded a patriotic furor. Each side used the founding fathers to justify going to war with the other. Confederates talked of their honor, but so did northern soldiers. The initial taste of combat winnowed many regiments, with some soldiers drifting to the rear in search of noncombatant duties. Some sneaks avoided battle: "Straggling is the rule," one officer wrote (48). In at least one instance, this problem became so serious that General William T. Sherman threatened to station artillery loaded with grapeshot behind the front line to ensure his soldiers did not run during the next battle. Civil War officers learned what leaders in all wars discover: To earn the respect of their men, they had to appear brave. The Civil War, like every other war, made soldiers into fatalists. Many became religious, and McPherson concludes that "it may not be an exaggeration" to say that religion prolonged the war by bucking up Confederate morale (75).

Another characteristic that Union and Confederate soldiers shared with soldiers in all wars was dedication to something called primary group cohesion. Soldiers become very close to their comrades in the same squad or platoon. Sometimes they put loyalty to such primary groups ahead of loyalty to nation or patriotic cause. McPherson finds many letters and diaries in which Civil War soldiers wrote of their brotherly feelings toward fellow privates.

The first six chapters of For Cause and Comrades echo old arguments. The Wiley school emphasized such universals as characteristic of all combat soldiers. But Civil War soldiers possessed unique characteristics. Anyone with even a superficial knowledge of Civil War battles can see that Civil War soldiers did not think like modern soldiers. For twenty years, McPherson has been taking students to Gettysburg to trod the ground where 13,000 Confederate Page  [End Page 93] soldiers ran a mile through artillery and withering rifle fire in a hopeless attack against Union forces protected by a stone wall. His students cannot imagine obeying a command to make such a charge. Teachers today must explain to children and students just how soldiers in the Civil War could do such things. Michael Bar-ton has argued that a Victorian ethic of self-discipline and self-control made soldiers of the nineteenth-century strikingly different from the products of our culture of narcissism.[25] But other historians, such as McPherson, find the difference in ideology.

The heart of McPherson's book begins in chapter 7. His chapters on the initial impulse to fight, soldiers' first combat, officers' need to appear brave, religion, and primary group cohesion all show how Civil War soldiers shared universal attributes with all soldiers, at all times, in any war. Chapter 7 makes the argument that despite such universals, Civil War soldiers fought for ideological motives. In making this argument he takes on Wiley and Linderman, insisting that "ideological motifs almost leap from many pages" of soldiers' diaries and letters (91). Soldiers eagerly read newspapers, organized debates on political issues, and voted. As the war progressed, their commitment to ideology became stronger, not weaker.

For the researcher, whether McPherson is right depends in part on which soldier's words are encountered. Anyone reading the diary of Illinois soldier James Boyd, for example, soon learns that McPherson is right. Ideological motivations do leap off the pages. On August 21, 1861, Boyd wrestled with his conscience in his Decatur, Illinois, home. "Immense military preparations under Maj Gen Fremont at St. Louis," he recorded in his diary. "I have an intense anxiety to participate," he wrote, exploring his feelings stream-of-conscious style. Despite his "anxiety" to join Frémont's army, Boyd wrote, "Feel disposed to complain at fortune if I leave." A young lawyer, Boyd had debts and a large family—six children—and, "For the first time as yet, now have a fair chance to build a good legal Reputation." Boyd strongly wanted to devote himself to his profession. "Yet my country calls loud and distinct—irresistible." Boyd could see that issues vital to the nation were at stake: "Shall Republics cease? Shall monarchy[,] oligarchy or anarchy" Page  [End Page 94] prevail? But, still, "If I go & get killed my estate would be insolvent." Boyd teetered between his personal responsibilities and duty to his nation. On August 21, he wrote, "I must go—must fight." Boyd did not doubt the North must fight: "The tug being do we have a cohesive Gov with real sinews or only a rope of sand—allowing the states to withdraw." On September 6, Boyd joined the 116th Illinois becoming a lieutenant colonel. [26]

Andrew Jackson played an important role in Boyd's thinking, and historians arguing for the power of ideas in the Civil War era have not emphasized Jackson enough. For those on the Union side inclined to justify themselves through ideology, Jackson played a critical role. Confronted with South Carolina's ordinance of nullification, Jackson declared ringingly, "The Constitution of the United States ... forms a government, not a league." In the context of South Carolina's threat to leave the Union and fight for its right to do so, Jackson's determined insistence that the national government represented "all the people" stirred the souls of many patriots. [27] Jackson fashioned an ideology that Lincoln could wield against secession but, more than that, Jackson contributed to the "mystic chords of memory" that motivated ordinary soldiers a generation later. Boyd wrote that Jackson had faced the same issue in 1832, and Boyd joined the 116th Illinois partly because of that fact.[28] Ideology made a difference for some southern civilians as well. Born in 1801, Debby Clark told interviewers after the war that her grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War and her brother served with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. "I believe in General Jackson," she stoutly declared, "and did not think it was right to destroy what he saved." Living outside of Vicksburg, in the heart of the Confederacy, Clark expressed herself "very bitterly about Confederate soldiers." They would die of hunger or thirst before she aided them. Neighbors regarded Clark as dangerously outspoken; Confederate provosts sometimes arrested and jailed dissenters. Her willingness to risk arrest and prison makes her commitment to Jacksonian ideals all the more remarkable.[29] Page  [End Page 95]

Reading the words Boyd and Clark wrote so long ago might leave a scholar wondering how Wiley managed to get it so wrong. Clearly, ideology pops off manuscript pages. But ideology is really only part of the question. Soldiers from the North and South alike asked, What kind of people are we? Deciding not to be ideological is itself an act of self-definition with ideological implications. Soldiers define not just themselves but their culture; they make the history that succeeding generations live with. Southerners accused northerners of abolitionism and of representing an industrialized, impersonal, bureaucratic state. Some northern soldiers first angrily refuted such charges, but some came to wonder if those words were not true. We still wonder. Such musings matter because they form our own mystic chords of memory. As American soldiers learned in World War II, there is power in coldly organized bureaucratic might. While soldiers like Boyd and civilians like Clark support McPherson's thesis, some soldiers thought they could tolerate the long grind of war better by eschewing ideology and patriotic rhetoric. William J. Kennedy instructed his wife to tell a neighbor that "if I was, as he is, a black abolishionist, I could not stay a way from home as long as I have." Kennedy was no abolitionist, as he reminded his wife: "As I am not, I must finish my job[;] it wont take long if his class and the Copper Heads will stop fighting at home." Kennedy did not really try to understand why his nation went to war, "but I have confidence in old Abe and will trust to him." [30]

Kennedy's letters home suggest a centralization of power characteristic of modern America. An explosive growth of central state authority has rationalized authority by shrinking decentralized institutions. To the extent that soldiers such as Kennedy saw themselves as cogs in a vast, bureaucratic machine, the roots of the modern bureaucratic culture can be found in the Civil War.[31] Tracing those roots to the Civil War and the writings of heroic ancestors makes them more legitimate.

Kennedy's letters also suggest the importance of great leaders. Ordinary people sometimes merely reflect leaders' rhetoric. Abraham Lincoln—and not just ordinary soldiers—influenced McPherson's understanding of why soldiers fought. As the Kennedy let- Page  [End Page 96] ters demonstrate, Lincoln reached the minds and pens of at least some Union soldiers. The power of his words continues to reach writers even today. Obviously, Lincoln crafted phrases with penetrating insight and that alone would have immortalized his thoughts. But his influence runs even deeper. His speeches formed an intellectual narrative that profoundly summarized and shaped northern thought, reaching into soldiers' diaries and letters. The man who in 1858 declared that blacks' physical differences meant they could never vote, be jurors, or marry whites made slaves into soldiers for freedom and endorsed African American suffrage in his last speech. Lincoln's odyssey from racism created a layer of meaning no historian can escape. For scholars living in a world anxious to escape or at least ameliorate racism, Lincoln's journey appeals mightily. His influence is inescapable. There is no way ordinary soldiers can "write" a book about the Civil War through the mind and hand of a modern scholar free of Lincoln's influence.

The great variety of evidence from the Civil War means that each generation can fashion its own meaning for the conflict. There is plenty of support for the ideological explanation McPherson finds so convincing. One can read the diaries of young men such as James Boyd and wonder how Wiley could have been so blind to their ideological motivations. But one can also read others' writings and find evidence that Civil War soldiers cared not a whit for flags, patriotism, and great causes. We may forever look into the mirror of America they left behind and find our own aspirations. Page  [End Page 97]


  1. Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves, "Seeing the Elephant": Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989), 111, 92. return to text
  2. Isaac Shoemaker, diary, Feb. 11, 1864, Duke University Library, Durham, N.C. return to text
  3. One hundred eighty thousand African Americans fought in the Civil War. One in five eligible black males served; 60 percent of Kentucky eligibles signed up. Less literate than their white compatriots, few black soldiers speak from these pages. McPherson is reduced to arguing, "There is no reason to believe ... that the genuine feelings of black soldiers were different from the published letters of their most articulate spokesmen" (128). return to text
  4. Frank and Reaves, "Seeing the Elephant," 150. return to text
  5. William Hollingsworth Whyte, The Organization Man (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956). return to text
  6. C. Wright Mills, White Collar (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951); Peter M. Blau, Bureaucracy in Modern Society (New York: Random House, 1956); Louis Galambos, "The Emerging Organizational Synthesis in Modern American History," Business History Review 11 (Autumn 1970): 279–90; id., "Technology, Political Economy, and Professionalization: Central Themes of the Organizational Synthesis," Business History Review 57 (Winter 1983): 471–93; Robert F. Berkhofer Jr., "The Organizational Interpretation of American History: A New Synthesis," Prospects 4 (1979): 611–29; Herbert Wechsler, "Toward Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law," Harvard Law Review 73 (1959): 33; Gary Peller, "Neutral Principles in the 1950s," University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 21 (Summer 1988): 561–622. return to text
  7. Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (1952; Baton Rouge: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1971), 346–61; id., The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1943). return to text
  8. Gerald F. Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (New York: Free Press, 1987). return to text
  9. Frank and Reaves, "Seeing the Elephant," 177. return to text
  10. James Ford Rhodes, History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the Final Restoration of Home Rule in the South in 1877 (New York: Macmillan, 1906), 10. return to text
  11. William Archibald Dunning, Reconstruction: Political and Economic, 1865–1877 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1907), 109. return to text
  12. Michael Les Benedict, "Preserving the Constitution: The Conservative Basis of Radical Reconstruction," Journal of American History 61 (June 1974): 65–90. On the issue of national mythology, see Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1983). return to text
  13. Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 191. return to text
  14. Examples abound but see, to choose examples at random, Morton J. Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law, 1780–1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977); Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985); Gordon Wood, Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 1993). return to text
  15. The notion that the South did not really differ from the North proved powerful among historians. See Thomas Govan, "Americans Below the Potomac," in The Southerner as American, ed. Charles Grier Sellers Jr. (1960; New York: Dutton, 1966), 19–39; Howard Zinn, The Southern Mystique (New York: Knopf, 1972); David Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848–1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976); Carl Degler, Place Over Time: The Continuity of Southern Distinctiveness (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), 60, 68. Other historians have insisted the South did represent a different kind of civilization than the North. See W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1941); John Hope Franklin, The Militant South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956); Rollin G. Osterweis, Romanticism and Nationalism in the Old South (1948; Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972); Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982); David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Dickson D. Bruce Jr., Violence and Culture in the Antebellum South (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979); Grady McWhiney, Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988). return to text
  16. Gordon Cotton to author, November 26, 1996. return to text
  17. Joel Williamson, "Wounds Not Scars: Lynching, the National Conscience, and the American Historian," Journal of American History 83 (Mar. 1997): 1221–53. Williamson's revelation reveals an amazing ignorance of the sociological literature. return to text
  18. Reid Mitchell, Civil War Soldiers: Their Expectations and Their Experiences (New York: Touchstone, 1988), ix. return to text
  19. Michael Les Benedict, "Preserving the Constitution"; Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974); John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972); Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1988). return to text
  20. Mitchell, Civil War Soldiers, 2. return to text
  21. Earl J. Hess, Liberty, Virtue, and Progress: Northerners and Their War for the Union (New York: New York University Press, 1988), 3. return to text
  22. Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861–1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). return to text
  23. Randall C. Jimerson, The Private Civil War: Popular Thought during the Sectional Conflict (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1988), 29. return to text
  24. Phillip Shaw Paludan, "A People's Contest": The Union and Civil War, 1861–1865 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 106. return to text
  25. Michael Barton, Goodmen: The Character of Civil War Soldiers (University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981); Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (New York: Norton, 1979). Of course, some complained of narcissism in the nineteenth century. "Democracy has worked out one result," William Tecumseh Sherman said after Bull Run: "brag, but don't perform" (Paludan, "People's Contest," 58). return to text
  26. James P. Boyd, diary, Aug. 21, Sept. 7, 1861, and Sept. 30, 1862, Manuscripts Department, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Ill.; Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois (Springfield: H. W. Rokker, 1900), 6:248. return to text
  27. James D. Richardson, ed., Messages and Papers of the Presidents (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1896–1899) 2:641–52. return to text
  28. Boyd, diary, Aug. 21, Sept. 7, 1861, and Sept. 30, 1862. return to text
  29. Debby E. Clark, deposition, June 28, 1873, Debby E. Clark claim 10683, Southern Claims Commission, Records of the Accounting Office of the Department of the Treasury, RG 217 National Archives, Washington, D.C. return to text
  30. Kennedy to wife, Apr. 3, 1863, William J. Kennedy Papers, Manuscripts Department, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Ill. return to text
  31. Richard Franklin Bensel, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859–1877 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Paludan, "People's Contest," 3–84. return to text