bath? It is possible that these deaths were accepted as part and parcel of the upheaval of war, but it also seems likely, based on Faust’s work, that these deaths were profoundly unsettling for average Americans. To take this a step further, it might have been that random deaths threatened to undermine rhetorical efforts to imbue all that death with meaning. Such “inglorious passages” might have threatened to prove the war was a mean- ingless exercise in slaughter. Alas, Wills does not interrogate the sources in this way. The wealth of source material Wills has compiled is loaded with poten- tial. For instance, the death of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, who was shot while removing a Confederate flag from the roof of a Virginia hotel, comes up several times. In one telling anecdote, Wills describes a death notice in a Cincinnati newspaper about a young soldier whose body was discovered, dead from an apparent drowning. The notice offered no further details. However, on the same page appeared an advertisement of a tableaux com- memorating the death of Colonel Ellsworth. Why was Ellsworth honored with a tableaux, while the drowned Charles Wright was allotted only a few sentences? Perhaps framing an
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Mar 1, 2019
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