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Civil War Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 02:55 am
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CleburneFan
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This topic has made me wonder many times. We often read about the Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome some of our vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing. We first heard about this debilitating syndrome after the Vietnam War.

Could the vets of the Civil War have been any different? It seems to me that some of the horrendous sights and events they were part of would have contributed to emotional problems.

Yet I have never read anything specific about emotional suffering after the war or even after a particular battle. I have wondered if PTSS could have led to many of the desertions that happened during the war.

Has anybody read anything about anyone who was so badly impacted by the war that they had difficulty functioning once they returned home? I don't mean they had difficulty because of injuries, although that could cause PTSS too. Just one example...Jesse James. Could his post war anti-social behavior have resulted from the acts he witnessed while being a guerrilla during the war?

Or were people in those times not sufficiently sophisticated to figure out that the horrors of war could seriously and negatively impact someone for life?



 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 03:00 pm
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David White
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There was an article in North & South recently (two or three ago) exactly on that subject, would have to go and look to see which issue it was.



 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 10:23 pm
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CleburneFan
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Thanks, Mr. White.  I'm really glad to know someone has looked into this issue to the extent that they could write an article about it.

I have read about at least a few generals who died in obscurity and poverty and at least one who killed himself not long after the war. Of course, many different reasons could contribute to such behavior, but Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome could lead to such behavior extremes too.  

North and South maintains archives of some of their better articles. I'll do a search and see if I can find the artcile you refer to. Again, I appreciate your telling me about the article.



 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 11:00 pm
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JoanieReb
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Cleborne Fan wrote:

"I have read about at least a few generals who died in obscurity and poverty and at least one who killed himself not long after the war. Of course, many different reasons could contribute to such behavior, but Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome could lead to such behavior extremes too."

In writing about General Pickett, in Damage Them All You Can, George Walsh stated,  "He now led the brigade of the 52-year-old Philip St. George Cocke who, broken by the bloodshed he had seen, had taken his life the day after Christmas."



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 12:03 am
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CleburneFan
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Joannie Reb, thank you for that quote. That is what I consider to be a perfect example of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Of course, it wasn't recognized in those days and was probably a matter of great shame. Heck, it often isn't recognized now!

It was most likely considered unmanly and cowardly. I wonder how many "cowards" and deserters who fled in fear, but were then executed were actually men who suufered from PTSS. 



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 12:23 am
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ole
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It was first noted after WWI or maybe even before. Then it was shell shock or battle fatigue. It was no doubt present after the nameless war, but no one paid any attention to it. There were no shrinks then to talk you through it. As noted, some took their own lives. Most simply lived through it.



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 02:17 am
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Johan Steele
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It has been suggested that organizations like the GAR, American Legion etc where men of similar experiances can interact go along way in allevieting or eliminating PTSD altogether.  A soldiers Heart, is an example of a book detailing PTSD IMHO.  Many men suffered from it and dealt w/ it as best as they could.  Most just kept on keeping on.

Many simply vanished into the vast expanse of the west.  The only solace they could find was in the silence of solitude.  How many, we will never know.



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 02:33 am
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CleburneFan
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Johan, I wondered about that too. The "Wild West", the life as a trapper, months alone in the wilderness, or riding in gangs of cattle rustlers, horse thieves, stage coach and train robbers and general mischief makers--the post war era offered many opportunities for the disaffected to avoid society or take advantage of it.



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 01:43 pm
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j harold 587
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The west was a definate way to release pressure with limited society restraint and also limited human contact. Many of the "bad men" or "law men" we all recognize from western history some worked both sides of the street would just be criminals today.

My mother knew an ACW vet who was an Andersonville survivor. The reason he stood out in her memory was he did not develop hunger pangs.   He was a farmer and his wife had to send a child to get him at lunch and supper as he did not get hungary.

We know for sure some incidents of shell shock were not well received by leadership. How about Patton's incident of slapping a shell shocked soldier? 

Just a thought. Prior to every major western migration in US history we had a major war. Revolutionary, War of 1812 (settlers moving into Ohio valley), Mexican (upper midwest) , then ACW (far west). I realize there were other factors just a thought.



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 02:27 pm
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David White
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Cleburne Fan:

I found it, in fact there were several relevant articles, you need to get, Vol 9, #4:

 


$5.99





When Metal Meets Mettle
When faced with the hard realities of military life, Civil War soldiers had to find ways in which to adapt, survive, and persevere.
--Stephen Berry


Johnny Reb, Billy Yank, and Betty Sue
In between the patriotic parades and grueling marches, the horrors of battle and the tedium of delay, Civil War soldiers' thoughts often turned to love and lust.
--Thomas P. Lowry

“Like a Handle on a Jug”
An examination of how and why the bond between the rank-and-file of the Union army and their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, grew stronger as the war progressed.
--Chandra Miller Manning

Refusing to Fight
Not all Union and Confederate soldiers gave fully of themselves on the battlefield. The breakdown of combat morale could take many forms, some of them subtle, some blatant.
--Earl J. Hess

“His Eyes Indicated Wildness and Fear”
The sights and sounds of combat left a lasting psychological impression on many Union veterans, who suffered from what would be viewed today as post-traumatic stress disorder.
--Eric T. Dean Jr.

Battlelines & Headlines
What did Northern and Southern whites expect of black military recruits? What motivated blacks to enlist? How were the battlefield accomplishments of black soldiers discussed publicly? An inquiry into the press' handling of the “negro soldier” question opens a door for finding answers.
--Andrew S. Coopersmith


 

Last edited on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 02:29 pm by David White



 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 08:04 pm
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younglobo
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Cleburne

Your post made me think of a article I had read on the Camp Chase Gazette website
not really on PTSD but who soilders would disobey orders due to thier own judgement especially veterans.


http://www.campchase.com/news/view_sections.asp?idcategory=9&idarticle=377

Had  buddy in a reenactment unit that told of an old trooper after the war commited suicide with the sidearm he carried during the war due to the visions in his dreams that would haunt him nightly. dont know it the story was true or not but I could see it happening.

Last edited on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 08:09 pm by younglobo



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