This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Vintage Civil War Library)

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Vintage Civil War Library)

Drew Gilpin Faust

Language: English

Pages: 346

ISBN: 0375703837

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God. Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, nurses, northerners and southerners come together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

The March

A Difference Of Purpose: A Novel Of The American Civil War
















with the reinterment movement, Yankees and Confederates possessed very different resources to direct to the task. Northerners would employ the expanding bureaucracy of the triumphant nation-state not just to rebury the dead but to count them. The census of interments requested by the quartermaster general at the end of the war made its contribution, ultimately resulting, as we have seen, in the reburial movement and in the twenty-seven installments of the Roll of Honor, which in their

that Jay Winter describes from British officers in World War I informing relatives of a soldier’s death: he was loved by his comrades, was a good soldier, and died painlessly. This is a remarkably secular formula in comparison to the Civil War’s embrace of the ars moriendi tradition. See J. M. Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 35. For a Civil War condolence letter written almost in

George Skoch, “A Lavish Funeral for a Southern Hero: ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s Last March,” Civil War Times Illustrated, May 1989, pp. 22–27; Samuel B. Hannah, May 17, 1863, Death of Stonewall Jackson, VMIA; online at See also Lexington Gazette, May 20, 1863, Funeral of Stonewall Jackson, VMIA, online at; Daniel Stowell, “Stonewall Jackson and the Providence of God,” in Randall M. Miller, Harry S. Stout, and Charles

more figurative sense, condolence letters reporting the details of soldiers’ deaths served as memento mori for kin working to understand wartime loss. Survivors rewrote these narratives of Good Deaths using the condolence letter as a rough draft for a range of printed genres designed to impose meaning and purpose on war’s chaos and destruction. Obituaries often replicated the structure and content of condolence letters, frequently even quoting them directly, describing last moments and last words

130th Pennsylvania ruefully reported that three days after the Battle of Antietam his regiment, “by reason of having incurred the displeasure of its brigade commander, was honored in the appointment as undertaker-in-chief” for a “particular part of the field.” In a gesture that was at once practical and punitive, officers often ordered prisoners of war to bury their own dead. A Confederate officer, for example, after an engagement later in the war, seemed to take satisfaction from the discomfort

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