View single post by Johan Steele
 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2007 02:57 pm
 PM  Quote  Reply  Full Topic 
Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352

Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065

  back to top

I have read well over 2000 letters and diaries, most of them men in the western theatres because that is what interests me.

Adventure, peer pressure, money, a steady paycheck to send home were all reasons I have seen mentioned.  Fighting slavery was mentioned in a few.  But I think by and far most letters where a reason is referenced: fighting treason, preserving or defending the country stands out.  By and large I have tried to let the opinions of the men who were there shape my opinions.  IMO the average US soldier saw themselves defending something greater than themselves against an aggresor who was attempting to destroy it.

One thread I have noted about slavery in all of the letters I have read is that the further South the men went & the more slavery they saw first hand the more they despised the institution and blamed it for the war.  Men who were not even vaguely abolishionist would come to recognize that slavery was not only an evil but the driving force behind Secession & the war.  Simply from the homes slaveowners had... the wealthy; and all to often the owners had only recently fled in front of the army.  In short, the wealthy slaveowners were sending the average working man, farmer, off to fight for him.

They knew the men sharing mud w/ them on the other side of their rifle were not unlike them.  Most were farmers trying to make a life for themselves and most had similar or the same wants and needs in life.  Many were also aware that many men on the other side of their sights were not there willingly.  All too many seemed quite aware of CS conscription and forcefully extended enlistments for the "duration."  It was just one more reason to put down the rebellion.  An interesting vhein in many letters is the election of 64.  Men knew they were holding an election in the middle of hellish war; and the CS wasn't.

As to what motivated the average man in blue?  Patriotism & love of country would stand high on that list and right beside that the knowledge that the man next to them in line was in the same boat... they weren't about to let down their country, their families or the man in line next to them.

There was a bond of respect between enemies that the staybehinders couldn't fathom.  Men who have shared the mud and danger had a tendency to respect each other.  Years after the war the veterans maintained a respect and even friendship for each other that must absolutly baffle those who still harbor a hatred.

 Close Window