Courage in the Civil War (Referencing for Cause and Comrades by James M. Mcpherson

Topics: Combat stress reaction, World War I, War Pages: 3 (1270 words) Published: May 5, 2010
Kathie Kaidan 4/14/10
HST 202 Paper #2
There is much controversy and uncertainty about the reasons of why the Civil War started, and why it went on for so long. The Civil War is unusual not only in American History, but in world history as well because of the intensity and carnage of it. Men were taking up arms against their neighbors, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends to meet on the field of battle with only one mission: to kill one another. James McPherson wondered this, so he researched over 25,000 uncensored letters to friends and family, and almost 250 private diaries from soldiers fighting for the Confederacy and soldiers fighting for the Union. He then took what he learned and wrote the book For Cause and Comrades, and found certain ideals that, he believes, are key reasons as to why these men fought each other over this conflict. McPherson argues that the initial impulse of the soldiers to fight the war was the simple “military rage” that follows after the declaration of any war. In most cases “military rage” is short lived, and mostly just talk, and then people back down when asked to rise up and fight. But in the Civil War, men were tearing down doors in order to enlist, and they continued to do so after the initial excitement had died down. McPherson also follows French Revolution Historian John Lynn in dividing soldiers motivation to fight into three sections throughout the war. “I have borrowed part of my conceptual framework from John A. Lynn, an historian of the armies of the French Revolution. Lynn posited three categories: initial motivation; sustaining motivation; and combat motivation. The first consists of the reasons why men enlisted; the second concerns the factors that kept them in the army and kept the army in existence over time; and the third focuses on what nerved them to face extreme danger in battle. These categories are separate but interrelated” (McPherson, 12). One important aspect was that men fought because of the...
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