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Military history - Kyle Fleming Military History For The...

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Kyle Fleming Military History For The Sake Of Duty and Honor Young, rugged, distinguished, timid, fearful, excited, confused. Only a few words that accurately describe the faces of the soldiers on cover of this book. However, those faces describe much more than just expressions; they represent the character of the man behind the face. Some of these men appear mature and experienced, where as others seem too young to experience the horrific reality of war. Despite the variety of facial expressions found in this picture, the breed of those men on the battlefield was as uniform as the jackets on their back. “For these same soldiers will fight like bull dogs when it comes to scratch.” What aspect of this Civil War made so many men eager to leave their entire life behind and fight, especially knowing the chances for survival were extremely thin? McPherson begins by presenting the four major reasons behind Americans motivation to join the War. These reasons were summed up in statements of four men who were very involved in the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln felt as though the motives that induced men to enlist were, “patriotism, political bias, ambition, personal courage and, want for employment.” An actual soldier stated in a letter to his father that a his outlook is simply to fight with honor, care for your fellow soldiers, and accept the blessings of God. Joshua Chamberlin’s sentiments towards joining the battle was “Simple manhood” and when one’s honor is at stake, “the instinct to seek safety is overcome.” John de Forest said it best. He understood it was not just mere non-fear of death that drove these men to run head-on in to seemingly suicide missions. As he stated, “The man who does not dread to die or to be mutilated is a lunatic. The man who, dreading these things, still faces them for the sake of duty and honor is a hero.”
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The mindset of many of the men prior to enlistment was presented in the early stages of the book. More specifically it depicts the mentality of Americans during the first Rage Militaire which began in April and ended in May 1861. This patriotic furor spread like wildfire throughout the north and south following the attack at Fort Sumter. This excitement while increasing patriotism also increased the resentment that the opposite sides felt for one another. Regardless of the resentment many Union and Confederates agreed upon one thing, that it was their duty to fight for their country. Other motives of enlistment were also presented in this chapter, such as the idea of fighting for self honor and glory associated with the adventure of war. In fact some historians question whether soldiers’ claim of patriotism was simply a means of “masking” their true motive of “personnel glory”. Regardless of these soldiers’ initial motives for enlistment it was the sustaining and combat motives that were truly tested, as many soldiers’ sentiments towards war quickly changed as the deadly reality sank in.
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