A groundbreaking investigation examining the fate of Union veterans who won the war but couldn’t bear the peace.
For well over a century, traditional Civil War histories have concluded in 1865, with a bitterly won peace and Union soldiers returning triumphantly home. In a landmark work that challenges sterilized portraits accepted for generations, Civil War historian Brian Matthew Jordan creates an entirely new narrative. These veterans― tending rotting wounds, battling alcoholism, campaigning for paltry pensions― tragically realized that they stood as unwelcome reminders to a new America eager to heal, forget, and embrace the freewheeling bounty of the Gilded Age. Mining previously untapped archives, Jordan uncovers anguished letters and diaries, essays by amputees, and gruesome medical reports, all deeply revealing of the American psyche.
In the model of twenty-first-century histories like Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering or Maya Jasanoff ’s Liberty’s Exiles that illuminate the plight of the common man, Marching Home makes almost unbearably personal the rage and regret of Union veterans. Their untold stories are critically relevant today.
8 pages of illustrations
Brian Matthew Jordan
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War". Oh, my gosh: almost 40% of this book consists of notes, bibliography & index -- but they certainly contain a wealth of research info for an enthusiast of the U.S. Civil War (1851-1865).
In this book the author analyzed what problems that Union soldiers encountered as they left their military life and tried to reintegrate into civilian life. Many had great difficulties in changing: many amputees lacked arms or legs to do most civilian jobs back then that required at least the use of two hands -- many Northerners didn't want to hire the handicapped; Unionists developed job-help newspapers in offering work for the disabled.
Many Union soldiers suffered from what we now recognize as "PTSD": post-(combat) stress disorder: soldiers who were mentally scared by their battlefield experiences of seeing their comrades horribly killed or wounded during battle; and those who couldn't leave...
This is a book about the Union forces after returning home from the Civil War--subtitled "Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War." It is a book about the suffering of those who served in the victorious armies of the north.
We learn of the hardships faced by those disfigured and wounded in the war (missing limbs, for example). Northerrners referred to the "bloody shirt" to dismiss those veterans who wanted the war to end well (e.g., African-Americans having their new rights respected). Civilians wanted their lives to go on; veterans wanted their service to be respected.
This book speaks to that tension. It is well done and testifies to the odd aftereffects of war--as has occurred over many long years in the American republic. A volume well worth reading. . . .
Most people these days are familiar with terms like "traumatic stress disorder" or battle fatigue, and feel a sense of injustice when they see homeless veterans sleeping on cardboard boxes. But the injustice of homelessness is not new nor is TSD a new phenomena. "Marching Home" shows how the Civil War affected so many people, from the battle scarred veterans who had to live in the hell of war on a daily basis for months if not years on end, fighting fellow countrymen and neighbors, and the prisoners of war who suffered unimaginable deprivations, but also those who remained behind and then had to face the sight of what what the war produced. "Marching Home" is an eye opening book and tells part of a story that rarely gets told; behind martial glory lies pain, depression, injustice and people who just want to turn an eye away from the true cost of war.
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