Analytical Review of For Cause

Analytical Review of For Cause - Cristina Ponte Analytical...

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Cristina Ponte Analytical Review of In order for war to exist, there must be thousands of men who are willing to put their life on the line. What could possibly motivate a soldier disregard the safety of his life? In the case of the American Civil War James McPherson attempts to address this question in his book . This war is one of the bloodiest in the history of America, with causalities reaching over a million. “You couldn’t get American soldiers today to make and attack like that”(p. 5) General Wickham who fought in the 70s said, admiring the fight in the Civil War soldiers. Then why did these Civil War soldiers fight like they did? The objective of the book is to answer the fundamental question “What enabled [Civil War soldiers:] to overcome that most basic of human instincts— self-preservation?” (p. 5). McPherson’s purpose was to attempt to give a good answer to the questions of how the soldiers fought like they did through the analysis of primary sources. McPherson found himself constantly faced with this question of why with little to no good reasoning, or speculation of reasoning but not hard evidence. The best way to address how and why soldiers did what they did through the use of primary sources. McPherson read 25,000 personal letters and 249 diaries to this answer. McPherson was attempting to rid his analysis of the soldiers’ position of bias and find a real view of a Civil War soldier. McPherson uses the words of troops themselves by basing his book around their writings including letters, memoirs, journals, and diaries, which allows him a source that was “far more candid and far closer to the immediacy of experience than anything the soldiers wrote for publication then or later”(p. 11). McPherson uses these sources to construct his arguments by describing an idea or
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concept and support it using a conversation from a letter or series of letters. Using this method McPherson makes a strong point and supports it. When he makes a point of how soldiers would rather die than be considered a coward he sited a sergeants letter to his mother: “A sergeant in the 6 th Ohio informed his mother that “it is better to die the deth of a brave Soldier than to liv a cowards life”(p78)”. The emotions McPherson captures are candid. With 90% of the Union army being literate and 80% of the Confederate, these
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Analytical Review of For Cause - Cristina Ponte Analytical...

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