Fighting Means Killing: Civil War Soldiers and the Nature of Combat

TitleFighting Means Killing: Civil War Soldiers and the Nature of Combat
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSteplyk, Jonathan M.
Number of Pages294
PublisherUniversity Press of Kansas
CityLawrence, KS

The Civil War was fundamentally a matter of Americans killing Americans. This undeniable reality is what the author explores in this volume, the first book-length study of Union and Confederate soldiers’ attitudes toward, and experiences of, killing in the Civil War. Drawing upon letters, diaries, and postwar reminiscences, the author examines what soldiers and veterans thought about killing before, during, and after the war. How did these soldiers view sharpshooters? How about hand-to-hand combat? What language did they use to describe killing in combat? What cultural and societal factors influenced their attitudes? And what was the impact of race in battlefield atrocities and bitter clashes between white Confederates and black Federals? These are the questions that the author seeks to answer in this volume, a work that bridges the gap between military and social history--and that shifts the focus on the tragedy of the Civil War from fighting and dying for cause and country to fighting and killing.

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