l. diane barnes, associate editor of the Frederick Douglass Papers, is the author of Frederick Douglass: Reformer and Statesman (Routledge, 2013). The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies. By Peter S. Carmichael. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018. Pp. 392. Cloth, $34.95.) This book is not your father’s history of Civil War soldiers—at least not if your father liked to read Bell I. Wiley, or any of the other historians who have contributed to one of the deepest and most satisfying historiographies of the Civil War era. In The War for the Common Soldier, Peter Carmichael sets out not to examine motivations or ideology, but to explore “the life of the rank and file as it was lived” (10). Carmichael believes that the war forced soldiers in the North and South to bridge the gulf between two competing impulses. “Sentimentalism” helped soldiers understand war as a series of hardships and sacrifices that could be endured through faith, courage, and patriotism. Confronting this conventional approach was that “pragmatism” that guided soldiers desper- ately seeking to survive with honor the filth, blood, and despair that they actually experienced. Although there
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Dec 5, 2019
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