This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil


This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War [PDF / Epub] ☀ This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War ✍ Drew Gilpin Faust – Liversite.co.uk An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War During the war, approximately , soldiers An illuminating study of Suffering: ePUB ✓ of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War During the war, approximately , soldiers lost their lives An equivalent proportion of today s population would be six million This Republic of Suffering explores This Republic ePUB ñ the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle material, political, intellectual, and spiritual The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship She describes how survivors mourned and Republic of Suffering: Kindle Ô how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

    Free Unlimited eBook after death Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 346 pages
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
  • Drew Gilpin Faust
  • English
  • 16 December 2017
  • 037540404X

About the Author: Drew Gilpin Faust

Catherine Drew Gilpin of Suffering: ePUB ✓ Faust is an American historian, college administrator, and the president of Harvard University.



10 thoughts on “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

  1. Matt Matt says:

    Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us But, above all, we have learned that whether a maThrough our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his command is to bring to his work a mighty heartOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Memorial Day Speech, 1884 When I first opened this slim addition to the mountain of books on the American Civil War, I worried that perhaps it would try to prove too much that it had some sort of precedent shaking hypothesis that it d try to prove I m not simply being crotchety, though I m sure that plays a role But it seems to me that in order to get a history book published these days, you have to take conventional wisdom and turn it on its end, whether or not the conventional wisdom is wrong The formula, as far as I can tell, is nearly full proof Simply find a well known event, or person, and then write a book that tries to prove the opposite of whatever it is that we know about that event person At first blush, I thought This Republic of Suffering was going down that road I was cued to this possibilty due to its anecdotal nature, with much of its empirical support culled from the letters, diaries, and other writings of American Civil War contemporaries Turns out, though, that I was wrong and not for the first time , and my fears never materialized This Republic of Suffering isn t trying to change Civil War scholarship, reinterpret past events, or attempt to prove that Robert E Lee s success came from a warlike leprechaun that lived in his impeccably groomed beard Rather, it asks you to look at known events with a fresh eye and a new angle This angle one that is lacking in most history texts is empathy Some 620,000 Americans, both Union and Confederacy, lost their lives in the Civil War Though battle deaths get the most attention, author Drew Gilpin Faust President of Harvard University points out that the majority of fatalities were caused by disease and the cruely assorted vagaries of life falling trees, lightning strikes, suicide, ACME rockets, and the accidental imbibing of poison, which should be a lesson to anyone drinking from unmarked bottles in abandoned farmhouses All those deaths worked out to 2% of the mid 19th century American population Today, that would equal roughly 6 million fatalities Put in perspective,men died in the Civil War than in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican American War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II combined Those are just numbers though As Joseph Stalin so aptly noted, A single death is a tragedy a million deaths a statistic Stalin makes a good point This is not a phrase I use often, I assure you When we start dealing solely with numbers, with percentages and numerical comparisons, we lose sight of something fundamental Numbers, for all their supposed precision, are abstract concepts After all, what do you picture when you imagine the number two or two thousand There are times when numbers are meaningless, or misleading, or proferred as a stand in for a deeper truth A good example of this is the grossly inflated casualty figures for any number of battles fought throughout history This isn t the result of some inability to count rather, a battlefield death is so psychologically shattering that it multiplies in the mind War is so terrible, so frightening, so much at the edge of human endurance, that the human mind is unable to accurately recall it A soldier in battle sees ten enemy soldiers and remembers a thousand he sees one dead man and remembers ten A battle simply allows for no frame of reference this leaves the participants, and the chroniclers, casting about blindly in an attempt to convey the truth Faust s work is an attempts to provide a context for all the fallen soldiers This Republic of Suffering is a broad ranging survey of death and dying It begins at the micro level, with the motivations of individual soldiers and their concept of the good death This engenders a discussion of religion and war, and the importance to 19th century soldiers to die in God s good grace She also explores the psychological aspects of killing, especially in an era in which military training consisted of hay foot straw foot Her discussion touches on research some of it controversial by Dave Grossman and SLA Marshall about the human aversion to taking human life In the Civil War, overshooting was a notorious problem in particularly hot firefights, entire regiments would shoot off their entire allotment of sixty or so rounds With the number of bullets flying around, its hard to believe anyone survived The question is, are these men intentionally mis shooting, or are they just poorly trained Faust does not neglect the special circumstances of black troops, many of them former slaves, who had a special motivation to go to war Cordelia Harvey, sent south by the governor of Wisconsin to provide aid to the State s wounded, wrote from Mississippi late in April 1864 to describe the anger and determination of back soldiers Since the Fort Pillow tragedy, she explained, our colored troops their officers are awaiting in breathless anxiety the action of GovernmentOur officers of negro regiments declare they will take noprisoners there is death to the rebel in every black mans sic eyes They are still but terrible They will fightThe larger portion of the book deals with the aftermath of battle It should be mentioned that this is in no way a military or political history of the Civil War This is the ugly stuff you usually don t hear about, the following grimness upon which most movies and novels do not dwell the removal of bodies the collection of personal artifacts the identification and burial notification of families internments disinternments and finally, the creation of national cemeteries and registries of the lost These details are often ignored or excised because they are not comfortable places to dwell It s easier, as a reader, to focus on the noble clash of arms and ideals, and the socio historical reverberations of long ago events, rather than the bloody, bloated, stinking silence that followed the thunder of the cannons The fact was, however, that thousands of bodies were scattered across hundreds of fields all around America And it was a monumental task to find them and bury them In This Republic of Suffering, Faust explains how in the immediate aftermath of battle, the bodies of soldiers were typically placed into mass graves officers were always treated better, unless those officers commanded black troops Efforts were made to identify the men by their belongings in the age before dog tags were mandated , but these were ad hoc attempts, and there was no systematic graves and registration system though one would be created in the aftermath of war Frantic families received unreliable, unofficial notices, and often made somber pilgrimages in an attempt to locate their loved ones The father of Union officer Oliver Wendell Holmes later to be among the great Supreme Court jurists made just such a journey Of course, capitalism was alive even in the 19th century, and war was great for business The armies trailed a phalanx of embalmers and coffin salesmen, and on the homefront, store owners kept a ready supply of black crepe and other mourning wear Faust s book relies heavily on the writings of others, and it is studded with excerpts and block quotations To her credit, she does a splendid job of integrating these words with her own She has taken care placing these snippets so that the overall flow is smooth Just as important, she has a good eye for finding extracts that are evocative and interesting the literary qualities of many Civil War soldiers, despite a laissez faire approach to spelling and grammar, is astounding Here, Faust quotes from a soldier named Ambrose Bierce, who went on to have some success in the world of letters Men There were men enough all dead, apparently, except one, who lay near where I had halted my platoona Federal sergeant, variously hurt, who had been a fine giant in his time He lay face upward, taking his breath in convulsive, rattling snorts, and blowing it out in sputters of froth which crawled creamily down his cheeks, piling itself alongside his neck and ears A bullet had clipped a groove in his skull, above the temple from this the brain protruded in bosses, dropping off in flakes and strings I had not previously known one could get on, even in this unsatisfactory fashion, with so little brain One of my men, whom I knew for a womanish fellow, asked if he should put his bayonet through him Inexpressibly shocked by the cold blooded proposal, I told him I thought not it was unusual, and too many men were looking.I mentioned this previously, but This Republic of Suffering has a different focus than most Civil War histories It is interested in the results of battles, not the battles themselves Accordingly, I came across a lot of subjects that I hadn t read about or read much about in the works of Foote, Catton, McPherson or Sears For instance, there is a relatively long chapter devoted to the role religion played in the war how it provided rationalization for the conflict and solace to the bereaved It also provided fertile ground for charlatans, who conducted seances and conversed with the dead Faust tells of one published book in which dead men told their stories of heaven unknown to readers, all the dead men were fictional The section in the book describing how the US Burial Corps tried to find bodies in the South managed to infuriate me Southern states not only refused to help recover bodies, but they actively desecrated Union graves This ignoble reality helped lead to the creation of national cemeteries When I read this, I couldn t help wondering whether the South s reimagining of the war as a lost cause was just them being poor losers, or rooted in somethingFrankly, I have my suspicions To Frederick Douglass s despair, the reasons for which men had died had been all but subsumed by the fact of their deaths Death has no power to change moral qualities, he insisted in a Decoration Day speech in 1883 Whatever else I may forget, the aging abolitionist declared, I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery Back to Stalin s quote, for a moment and then I promise, noStalin The great value in this book is that it starts to give depth, resonance, and meaning to the numbers When you read, for example, that 3,000 men died at Antietam, you might think of the times you ve counted to 3,000, or seen 3,000 of anyting, and you make a judgment as to whether that number is small or large And then you pass on This Republic of Suffering makes you stop and imagine what 3,000 corpses would look like on a grassy meadow, or a sunken dirt lane, or a field of wheat It asks you imagine the infinite capacities for thought, love, ingenuity, and passion contained within each human brain and soul, and how the loss of each man reverberated outwards like the concentric rings of a rock thrown in a lake, and it requests that you multiply those capacities by 3,000, and eventually, 620,000.It is only a thought exercise, of course You soon arrive at the realization that the imagination cannot go to those places Every death ended a story that couldn t have been told in a 100,000 page book It is not in gross numbers, but in individuals, that you reckon the cost of war

  2. Max Max says:

    Faust examines all aspects of death in the American Civil War in this unique, insightful topical history Foregoing the usual discussions of battles and tactics she focuses on personal values and culture taking us into the minds of 1860s Americans This book is replete with personal experiences and observations of soldiers and their families The war s impact ends quickly for soldiers killed in action but lingers for lifetimes for surviving loved ones Their faith in religion and country is chal Faust examines all aspects of death in the American Civil War in this unique, insightful topical history Foregoing the usual discussions of battles and tactics she focuses on personal values and culture taking us into the minds of 1860s Americans This book is replete with personal experiences and observations of soldiers and their families The war s impact ends quickly for soldiers killed in action but lingers for lifetimes for surviving loved ones Their faith in religion and country is challenged and for many reinforced Slavery as an institution is not explored but the treatment of black soldiers in life and death is About 620,000 soldiers died in the conflict, equivalent to 6 million deaths given today s population, but this is not a book of statistics This is a book about death and grief on a massive scale that had a deep and broad impact on society.Mid nineteenth century people were much closer to dying and death than we are today People usually died at home surrounded by family Children often succumbed to disease, but not young adults In the war mostly young men died and they died away from home adding greatly to the emotional distress of their families Americans were predominantly Protestant and deeply religious Forty per cent were evangelical Christians They believed in the resurrection of the body Families expected to meet after death in their perfect bodies in heaven One way they could tell who was going to heaven was the way a person died They looked to see if a dying person was confident and resolute in their faith as the end approached Letters written to families about the deceased took great care to address the dying person s composure and faith often evidenced by last words If death was sudden or not witnessed the writer would seek and include any indication of virtue It was very important to assure a family that their loved one died in God s grace Death was not the end of life but the beginning of eternity.Many soldiers found it difficult to kill another man The attitude of Lincoln s general in chief, Winfield Scott would serve us well today, No Christian nation can be justified in waging war in such a way as shall destroy five hundred and one lives, when the object of the war can be attained at a cost of five hundred Every man killed beyond the number absolutely required is murdered But as the war progressed many consciences gave way to retribution African American soldiers and their white officers served at great risk, rarely taken prisoner Massacred by Confederate troops after they surrendered at Fort Pillow, black soldiers fought with a vengeance In battle soldiers witnessed carnage unimaginable when the war started Many attested to scenes similar to Grant s after Shiloh, I saw an open field.so covered with the dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping only on dead bodies without a foot touching the ground Such experiences were common dehumanizing, disorienting, and devaluing human life What we call PTSD today afflicted many What to do with the dead became a huge problem Fighting could continue for days with the dead accumulating on the ground A description of the Gettysburg battlefield provides a good illustration After three days of fighting, By July 4 an estimated six million pounds of human and animal carcasses lay strewn across the field in the summer heat, and a town of 2,400 grappled with 22,000 wounded who remained alive but in desperate condition Residents of the surrounding area complained of a stench that persisted from the time of the battle in July to the coming of frost in October A society used to honoring each individual death soon turned to mass graves often with no identification Officers were given individual graves whenever possible while common soldiers were frequently laid end to end in shallow trenches Dehumanizing burial practices appalled those assigned the task of burying their comrades Enemy dead, usually left behind when an army retreated, would be piled into pits one atop the other Those with means could employ independent agents to find and even disinter loved ones But very few could afford the costs of transporting bodies home including metal coffins and embalming.Neither government considered identifying the dead its responsibility and neither had a system of individual identification Dog tags were instituted in WWI Those desperate to know if their loved one was alive or to locate his remains were often unable to do so Volunteer and state sponsored organizations tried to help with limited success Over 40% of Union soldiers and even a higher percentage of Confederate soldiers died unknown Various lists of the dead would be compiled by independent sources after battles and published in newspapers These were typically unreliable Claims for death benefits and back pay required proof of death, often not available Desperate families crowded battlefields in search of their missing loved ones Some lucky families received personal letters from friends of the deceased, which invariably assured them that the soldier died a Good Death About 50,000 civilian deaths were attributed to the war Civilians near army camps or hospitals often came down with diseases such as measles and mumps that were endemic wherever soldiers congregated Children were particularly vulnerable In parts of the South food and basic supplies became scarce The massive death rate from the war 18% of all men of military age in the South and the increased civilian death rate meant women in mourning were ever present, particularly in the Confederacy Widows were supposed to stay in mourning two and one half years, widowers six months Mourning had set stages, heavy followed by full followed by half, with special clothes for each stage The prescribed clothing was beyond the means of many.Four times as many Americans attended church every Sunday as voted in the contentious and consequential presidential election in 1860 An interesting fact, lest we think that Americans not voting is something new But even in this nation of devout believers, the staggering death toll caused people to question their faith and conceptions of God Science, such as Lyell s work on the age of the earth and discussions of Darwinism which preceded publication of his theory, were already challenging established beliefs How could God allow such carnage How could Southerners use the Bible to support slavery and Northerners the same book to condemn it Many answered doubts by simply doubling down on their religious fervor Immortality was neededthan ever New ideas of heaven as a continuation of one s earthly identity and relationships gained steam Spiritualists held their first convention in 1864 as their movement emerged and grew Both sides adjusted religion to their needs, particularly difficult for the South in its defeat, but Southerners responded by filling their churches laying the foundation for the Bible Belt.Following the war, independent groups began accounting for the dead, identifying them and getting them into proper cemeteries Congress responded establishing national cemeteries, which had separate sections for African Americans and excluded Confederates Southern volunteer groups created their own It waited for President McKinley trying to unite the country in 1896 to call for honoring all Civil War dead But this effort to let bygones be bygones could not convince everyone As Frederick Douglas said on Decoration Memorial Day in 1883, Whatever else I may forget, I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery

  3. brian brian says:

    you know that very un scientific statistic about how the average male thinks about sex once every two minutes well, triple that and replace sex with death and that s me at the age of twelve, i m certain woody allen used me as the basis for his character in Hannah and her Sisters and ol leo prolly based levin on me, as well while other kids were stroking it to penthouse, i was rocking back and forth in fetal position from too many re readings of the Grand Inquisitor section of The Brothe you know that very un scientific statistic about how the average male thinks about sex once every two minutes well, triple that and replace sex with death and that s me at the age of twelve, i m certain woody allen used me as the basis for his character in Hannah and her Sisters and ol leo prolly based levin on me, as well while other kids were stroking it to penthouse, i was rocking back and forth in fetal position from too many re readings of the Grand Inquisitor section of The Brothers Karamazov and multiple viewings of The Seventh Seal so when i discovered this book i was pretty certain i was gonna love it about as much as any book i ve ever read nope here s why the fact chapters on aspects of death burying, naming, numbering, etc start with a big premise and then kinda narrow in on dozens of tiny examples to bolster the point repetition without going deep enough to truly illustrate a point or establish a connection i found myself skimming example after example after example and those other chapters, those that assess the spiritual and existential changes that occurred as a result of the Civil War just aren t probing and or interesting enough faust does a good job of examining Bierce, Melville, Whitman and Dickinson in an effort to understand the post war spiritual upheaval through the eyes of writers poets but she s far too general when addressing the nation as a whole the strength of this book is faust s thorough explanation of how the u.s government, in being forced to act and intervene, forever shaped the nation s relationship to its government the final test, i guess, is that this book did not throw me into a severe existential panic my angst anguish fear trembling levels didn t significantly rise and that s a major disappointment

  4. robin friedman robin friedman says:

    The Civil War And The Harvest Of DeathMost books on the American Civil War can be grouped into one of two categories The first category consists of studies of the military history of the conflict, frequently focusing on individual battles or campaigns The second category focuses on the political aspects of the conflict with much recent literature centered upon Emancipation and with the long delay following the Civil War in securing civil rights for the former slaves.Drew Gilpin Faust s This R The Civil War And The Harvest Of DeathMost books on the American Civil War can be grouped into one of two categories The first category consists of studies of the military history of the conflict, frequently focusing on individual battles or campaigns The second category focuses on the political aspects of the conflict with much recent literature centered upon Emancipation and with the long delay following the Civil War in securing civil rights for the former slaves.Drew Gilpin Faust s This Republic of Suffering Death and the American Civil War cuts across these two categories by studying in detail the extent of the death and suffering resulting from America s greatest conflict Most studies of the Civil War, of the first or second category, do pay attention to Civil War death but in the context of other themes There are relatively few studies which take death as the primary theme for a study of the entire War Faust has good precedent for her theme in Gregory Coco s A Strange and Blighted Land and other works by Coco, among other writers, of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.Faust emphasizes the strongly religious and evangelical character of mid 19th Century United States and of the familiarity that society, in contrast to how many people view contemporary America, felt with death She emphasizes the concept of the good death after a full life and in the presence of family, with the deceased having the opportunity to turn his thoughts towards repentance and religion The Civil War and its carnage ran squarely into the concept of the good death as soldiers in the hundreds of thousands died from disease or bullets far from home in a manner that was depersonalizing, painful, and bleak Casualty rates in the Civil War were extraordinarily high and difficult even today to measure precisely, especially for the South.Faust describes how, at the outset of the war, neither the North nor the South expected a lengthy conflict and thus made no provision for handling the massive casualties that occurred Ambulance service the retrieval of the dead and wounded medical care, identification of the dead, proper burial, and the notification of kin were all seriously deficient Faust describes these and many other aspects of death and of the brutality of the conflict and of the efforts made, as the War dragged on, to improve the care given to the dead and dying.Faust is insightful on the efforts of non government groups, such as the U.S Sanitary Commission and the Christian Commission, and of individuals such as Clara Barton, to relieve suffering during the war and to treat each soldier as a treasured individual rather than as a cog in the military effort Similar efforts were made on a smaller scale in the South She also describes well the efforts made after the war by persons such as Edward Whitman, by the Federal government, and by women s groups in the former Confederacy to find the dead, frequently buried in hastily constructed graves, and to identify and inter them with respect and honor This effort, Faust argues, presaged an expansive role for the government in the theretofore private affairs of individuals and marked a change in the way the culture viewed and responded to death.The most impressive part of the book is the use Faust makes of contemporaneous literary accounts of the Civil War Her book is replete with references to Civil War poetry which, whatever its shortcomings may be as literature, is a precious guide to how people living through the war responded to it In addition to the popular literature of the day, she draws upon the works of Lincoln the Second Inaugural Address Whitman, Melville, Ambrose Bierce, Emily Dickinson, John DeForest author of the 1867 novel Miss Ravenel s Conversion , and Oliver Wendell Holmes to show how the destruction wrought by the Civil War was viewed by contemporaries.In a recent article in the New York Review, James McPherson has pointed out that Faust s book gives insufficient weight to other important results of the Civil War over and beyond the appalling casualties Thus she does not address the preservation of the Union and the expansion of democracy, the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and the eventual, although delayed, extension of rights of citizenship to the former slaves She also gives insufficient weight to the manner in which the war ultimately came to reunite the North and the South which had been bitter enemies during the conflict and in the immediate years thereafter But there will be few readers who will be tempted to romanticize the Civil War after reading Faust s account Her study reminded me of the terrible price Americans have had to pay to secure the government and the liberties we hold dear and all too frequently take for granted.Robin Friedman

  5. Bruce Bruce says:

    Over 600,000 deaths occurred as the result of the Civil War Drew Faust has explored this fact to gain perspective and understanding not only of that conflict but of the legacy that was left to us today Let me briefly summarize each of her chapters, giving a sense of the book s content.Chapter 1 Dying During the mid 19th century, when most deaths occurred at home and surrounded by loved ones, there was the Victorian concept of a Good Death alert and aware, willing to let go, surrounded by Over 600,000 deaths occurred as the result of the Civil War Drew Faust has explored this fact to gain perspective and understanding not only of that conflict but of the legacy that was left to us today Let me briefly summarize each of her chapters, giving a sense of the book s content.Chapter 1 Dying During the mid 19th century, when most deaths occurred at home and surrounded by loved ones, there was the Victorian concept of a Good Death alert and aware, willing to let go, surrounded by family and loved ones, giving expression to one s faith in Jesus most people were Christians , saying good bye to loved ones This model was hard to sustain on the battlefields far from home, so accommodations were made and substituting rituals developed Even standard letters by fellow soldiers became a genre, trying to address these issues Executions for desertion and crime raised problematic issues that were hard to understand and explain Disease causeddeaths than did firearms, and these too were hard to explain as in any way heroic.Chapter 2 Killing Models of valor were used patriotism, masculinity, chivalry Faithfulness to country and companions became merged with Christian ideals Numbing occurred, and PTSD was common, although not by that name The sharpshooter was often reviled as outside the pale of acceptable behavior The sheer scale of killing was almost unfathomable and challenged the individual soldier s ability to make sense of it Killing could become irrational and consuming, even invigorating, and special demonization could occur, eg by Southern soldiers of black Union soldiers and of their white officers.Chapter 3 Burying At first, when casualties were anticipated to be few, emphasis was on transporting all dead soldiers home and providing elaborate traditional burials Numbers and logistics soon overwhelmed this wish Officers werelikely to receive formal and marked interment, and sometimes comrades took responsibility for burying their friends As numbers of slain increased, military units often cleaned up after a battle, often as a disciplinary measure Soon allies and enemies came to be buried in common unmarked graves, usually not together, and officers and enlisted men were usually buried separately Common graveside services or none at all became common Embalming was developed, and entrepreneurs developed a brisk business in shipping bodies sometimes not those requested back home Ultimately the national government began to set aside official cemeteries like that at Gettysburg, formalizing not only the burial of the killed but consecrating the cause for which they died.Chapter 4 Naming Hundreds of thousands of menthan 40 percent of deceased Yankees and a far greater proportion of Confederates perished without names, identified only, as Walt Whitman put it, by the significant word UNKNOWN Soldiers had no official identification documentation, so there was no uniform way of identifying a body There were also no official avenues of notifying those back home of soldiers injuries or deaths officers or chaplains sometimes took this task upon themselves, but results were inconsistent and increasingly inadequate as casualties mounted Frequent errors were rife Volunteer organizations were formed to take over the function of identifying casualties and informing kin, but these were inconsistent, underfunded, and inadequately staffed By War s end, the federal government was acknowledging its responsibility for keeping track of its soldiers, their injuries and deaths, and for notifying next of kin as well as caring for the deceased in terms of return of bodies and of proper burial.Chapter 5 Realizing The War became real to civilians as well as soldiers Sometimes civilians were caught in the immediacy of conflict Sometimes they died of war related epidemic diseases that crowding, poverty, and physical dislocation contributed to And they often experienced deprivation of the very necessities of life Further, the reality of death and conflict often could not diminish because of lack of knowledge of what had happened to their combatant loved ones Years might pass without word of whether a son, a father, a husband was alive or dead or a prisoner of war In many cases no word ever came, and closure was difficult Without such knowledge, folks back home were left in limbo, unable to make plans, unable to access financial benefits or compensation, unable to remarry, scarcely able to grieve with definitive awareness of the situation of the loved one who was or had been at war Life was suspended for them, producing alterations of hope and grief, uncertainty and misinformation.Chapter 6 Believing and Doubting, for me the most interesting of Faust s chapters Soldiers and civilians tried to make sense of the ongoing slaughter, attempted to find meaning in what seemed inexplicable Even as the War as well as the increasing influence of science in America and Europe led many to question their traditional beliefs in a loving and controlling God, religious revivals swept the armies as well as the folks back home Death itself, as it becamecommon anddifficult to choreograph on its Victorian Good Death model, came to be denied in its finality, Heaven increasingly coming to be seen as a realm of perfection and joy to which men wished to go Death as termination of life simply did not any longer exist Concepts of heaven became less ascetic, the distance between this world and the next narrowing in popular sentiment Hell was discussed less and less Death became not only less of an ending but alsoof a temporary and brief parting, and the afterlife became progressivelyattractive in the literature and sermons of the time The Civil War made urgent the transformation of heaven into an eternal family reunion, encouraging notions of an afterlife that was familiar and close at hand, populated by loved ones who were just beyond the veil Spiritualism flourished as many survivors were unwilling to wait until their own deaths to communicate with those who had gone before Others, of course, turned away from any ideas of heaven or an afterlife and looked for meaning in a providential perspective of the preservation of the Union Such an attitude wasavailable, obviously, to the winners in the North than the defeated in the South Many simply lost all sense of meaning whatsoever, and writers of the time often took a stance of irony and cynicism not only toward the War but toward life in general Dickinson, Melville, and Bierce transformed the need to grapple with the meaning of national conflagration into broad and lasting questions about the foundations of religion and of human understanding Civil War death and devastation planted seeds of aprofound doubt about human ability to know and to understand Chapter 7 Accounting Almost immediately after the War, efforts began to gather, identify, and rebury the fallen soldiers There was a sense that the nation owed these warriors the recognition and honor commensurate with the magnitude of the War effort and the value of the Union s preservation The US Government organized the search across the South in particular for Union graves, many of which were being desecrated by bitter and vengeful Southerners Hundreds of thousands of bodies were found, collected, and reburied in national cemeteries that Congress established There was in the North, however, resistance to the similar gathering and burying of the Confederate dead, the conviction being that rebels deserved no efforts or funds to reward their rebellion, all of this occurring during the period of Radical Reconstruction Civic and religious organizations in the South took the responsibility upon themselves, therefore And in the South, especially, since victory could not justify the deaths of its soldiers, only vindication of the original purposes of the conflict could ensure the meaning of so many men s sacrifice, and thus a recalcitrant Confederate regionalism was reinforced.Chapteer 8 Numbering Vast statistical analysis of everything about the War, especially about the casualties, proliferated In face of the inadequacy of words, counting seemed a way to grasp the magnitude of sorrow, to transcend individual bereavement in order to grapple with the larger meaning of loss for society and nation At the same time that this created a means of imposing order and sense, individual deaths becameandsentimentalized in story and song These paradoxical movements complemented each other, serving different needs and reinforced two modes of understanding the War experience.Epilogue Surviving The fallen had solved the riddle of death, leaving to the survivors the work of understanding and explaining what this great change had meant This work was madedifficult by all the obstacles that Faust has discussed Survivors found themselves in a new and different moral universe where old answers had proved to be inadequate The nation too was a survivor, a survivor transformed in ways it could never have envisioned And we today are also the survivors, struggling with how to preserve our humanity and our selves within such a world as we were left with after the Civil War We still seek to use our deaths to create meaning where we are not sure any exists The Civil War generation glimpsed the fear that still defines us This book unflinchingly chronicles the fact of death and dying during the Civil War, including responses to the unimaginable slaughter and suffering Many of these responses are not so different from the responses we today take in response to unexplainable tragedy At the very least, an understanding of late 19th century responses to the War and its aftermath can cause us to beaware of and examinecarefully our own attempts at coping with suffering we cannot control

  6. Steve Steve says:

    Drew Gilpin Faust s The Republic of Suffering is a necessary, and long overdue, cultural history of a largely ignored aspect of the Civil War Basically, it s a history of Death on a massive scale in what many historians view as the first modern war, and how society or societies North and South dealt with such losses There were of course differences in how the North and South did deal with such losses, especially when it came to locating bodies for reburial For the North, location and rebu Drew Gilpin Faust s The Republic of Suffering is a necessary, and long overdue, cultural history of a largely ignored aspect of the Civil War Basically, it s a history of Death on a massive scale in what many historians view as the first modern war, and how society or societies North and South dealt with such losses There were of course differences in how the North and South did deal with such losses, especially when it came to locating bodies for reburial For the North, location and reburial in National Cemeteries became a Government effort which excluded the Confederate dead for the South, the effort s wereof a grassroots nature performed by a number of groups Nevertheless, both societies believed in the importance of the Good Death, a theme that Faust returns to again and again throughout her book The Civil War did do damage to the Good Death concept for a number of reasons Essentially a good death featured, within the popular imagination of the time, the family gathered around the loved one, while sweet, sad things were said, and Christian resolve mustered before departure to the great beyond Personally, I don t find that concept dated, and can only hope for something similar when my time comes On the War front, the problem of bodies being blown apart, not ever found and identified, long periods where the fate of a soldier could not be found out due to the poor flow of information, created an unending sense of anxiety for families in both the North and South In other areas, and less obvious, but also important, were changing attitudes toward the Bible, Heaven, and Hell Emily Dickenson, who Faust points out, penned a great number of her poems during the War, also happened to populate her poems with war imagery and of course, death On reading this, one particular line from Dickenson came quickly to mind, and I think sums up the great anxiety and fears of the age and with her typically powerful economy Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell Overall, Faust is a sure guide who maintains the even tone of an academic, but one with a humane touch This is a book filled with enormous heartache, as anecdote after anecdote drives home But it is also forward looking, showing that lessons were learned, as the Government and civilians were forced to respond to an avalanche of dead, missing, and wounded, with initially no responsive and supportive structures in place That would change There were shortcomings galore, but also many successes, as concrete efforts were made to find and identify the dead, provide a final resting places for their remains, and thus bringing final closure to so many who had lost so much One of the great paradoxes of the War, with its mass destruction, was the growing appreciation of the individual Thousands died, but there was a refusal to see that fact as simply numbers and or disposable cogs in a military machine And that, for me, was the gleaming, hopeful thread that ran throughout this sad book

  7. Babbs Babbs says:

    It is hard, he wrote, to realize the meaning of the figures It is easy to imagine one man killed or ten men killed or, perhaps, a score of men killed but even the veteran is unable to comprehend the dire meaning of the one hundred thousand, whose every unit represents a soldier s bloody grave The figures are too largeThe way this book is broken down, from Dying versus Killing, to Naming of those lost, sections off different aspects of the war, and the impact it had not onlyIt is hard, he wrote, to realize the meaning of the figures It is easy to imagine one man killed or ten men killed or, perhaps, a score of men killed but even the veteran is unable to comprehend the dire meaning of the one hundred thousand, whose every unit represents a soldier s bloody grave The figures are too largeThe way this book is broken down, from Dying versus Killing, to Naming of those lost, sections off different aspects of the war, and the impact it had not only on the soldiers who fought it, but on their families and the country as a whole Constructed mostly as a chronological narrative, with quotes from ledgers, newspapers, and personal letters as examples, this is one of the most human accounts of war that I ve ever read I also enjoyed the expansion that included the impact of literary works on the public s perception of the war and the consequences that came from the greatest lost of American life to date This would be an excellent starting point for anyone interested in readingabout the Civil War and I personally plan on following up on several of the authors of the time, specifically Longfellow and WhitmanThat fatal bullet went speeding forth Till it reached a town in the distant North Till it reached a house in a sunny street Till it reached a heart that ceased to beat Without a murmur, without a cry And the neighbors wondered that she should die

  8. David David says:

    It s well known that there were huge numbers of casualties during the Civil War But what lies behind the numbers Every single death represents a life a son, a husband, a brother What were the faces and feelings and experiences behind the numbers This book considers aspects of death and dying and suffering I would never have thought of the emotions of the soldiers anticipating possible death as they go into battle the mental or emotional adjustments involved in learning to kill the desire It s well known that there were huge numbers of casualties during the Civil War But what lies behind the numbers Every single death represents a life a son, a husband, a brother What were the faces and feelings and experiences behind the numbers This book considers aspects of death and dying and suffering I would never have thought of the emotions of the soldiers anticipating possible death as they go into battle the mental or emotional adjustments involved in learning to kill the desire to die the good death , showing courage, faith, and conviction the feelings of losing comrades and friends the struggles to bury the dead and keep records of death and burial the uncertainty and and agony of families back home, many of which never learned details of the lost soldiers and so muchConsiderable attention is given to religious feelings and philosophical approaches as they evolved during the years of the war And then, the aftermath of the war, as the suffering continued in new ways.This was a fascinating and superbly written historical treatise which held my attention like a novel It portrayed the facts with feeling and insight The narrative is enlivened by countless personal anecdotes the author must have read every personal letter, journal, or public record that survives from the era This is not just a book about the Civil War it s a reflection on the meaning of war and how a people struggle to create meaning and justification

  9. Christine Christine says:

    While the sub title of the book indicates the focus on the Civil War, much of what Faust illustates can be applied to how cheaply we seem to hold life these days And no, I m not talking soley about inner city violence, but mass shootings, terrorist attacks You name it Because, the book is about how society s view to death changed radically during the Civil War.Faust s book is divided into chapters, each named with a facet of death She details the original view of death in the society of the While the sub title of the book indicates the focus on the Civil War, much of what Faust illustates can be applied to how cheaply we seem to hold life these days And no, I m not talking soley about inner city violence, but mass shootings, terrorist attacks You name it Because, the book is about how society s view to death changed radically during the Civil War.Faust s book is divided into chapters, each named with a facet of death She details the original view of death in the society of the time, but then how that changed with the war not only in terms of how the army dealt with the bodies of the wounded, but also how individuals dealt with the missing loved ones It is an enthralling and distrubing read that is a needed one

  10. Lizzie Lizzie says:

    About America s national PTSD in the wake of the Civil War More than 600,000 soldiers died an equivalent proportion of today s population would be six million That doesn t include the wounded, and civilian casualties Americans had to realize the enormity of what had happened to their country, to every family, to do the work of burying, naming, accounting, and numbering.Both sides assumed the conflict would last a couple of months Neither planned for care of the wounded, housing prisoners, About America s national PTSD in the wake of the Civil War More than 600,000 soldiers died an equivalent proportion of today s population would be six million That doesn t include the wounded, and civilian casualties Americans had to realize the enormity of what had happened to their country, to every family, to do the work of burying, naming, accounting, and numbering.Both sides assumed the conflict would last a couple of months Neither planned for care of the wounded, housing prisoners, identification of the missing and the dead The military had no formal muster rolls, no organized way of identifying the dead and wounded To find what had happened, family members traveled to battle sites to try to find missing soldiers Can you imagine knowing your son or father had fought in a battle you read about in the paper, and then no word from him For months Sometimes the missing one turned up in a hospital or prison camp sometimes a letter describing his death and burial would come from a commander or fellow soldier sometimes they never knew Families wanted to know if their dear one had had a good death Was he a believer, was he willing to die Letters sent from the front have descriptions like the calm repose of his countenance indicated the departure of one at peace with God The numbers were staggering, unimaginable At the same time, a story lay behind every death Every individual s loss was a heartbreak Both sides realized they must name and count the dead and wounded, find every body and identify and bring home as many as possible Vast cemeteries must be created By the last year of the war the Army sent special units to search for and retrieve the bodies of Union soldiers, which were being desecrated in the South African American Southerners helped protect and identify some of these graves Confederate women formed their own burial associations to care for their dead.Before the war most Americans weren t embalmed Why would they be They died and were buried close to home Before the war, Americans pictured Heaven and the afterlife as a place where disembodied souls spent eternity in the presence of God In the wake of the war came books that pictured lost sons and fathers in a Heaven like their earthly homes, where bodies were made whole again, amputated limbs restored Some believers looked forward to being reunited with their lost ones after death others lost their faith What kind of God could allow such suffering Spiritualism, table tapping, communing with the dead all became popular, as they do in the wake of every war.This is a terrific, detailed, moving book

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