Author:Publisher:Edition/Format: Summary:
Jonathan M Steplyk
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, 2018.
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eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats



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"War means fighting, and fighting means killing." Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest famously declared. The Civil War was fundamentally a matter of Americans killing Americans. This undeniable reality is what Jonathan Steplyk explores in Fighting Means Killing, 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, Steplyk 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 Steplyk seeks to answer in Fighting Means Killing, 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."--

"War means fighting, and fighting means killing," Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest famously declared. At its core the Civil War involved Americans killing Americans. Regardless of the moral lens through which one views the conflict, that truth remains. Relying heavily on the wartime letters and diaries and postwar reminiscences of soldiers and veterans, Jonathan Steplyk explores Union and Confederate attitudes about, and experiences of, killing in combat, and contends that the majority of soldiers positively affirmed and accepted killing the enemy as part of their military duty and a necessity for their respective causes to prevail. Steplyk examines the cultural and societal factors that influenced soldiers" attitudes toward killing prior to and during the war, the various ways soldiers experienced killing in battle, the terms and turns of phrase that soldiers used to describe killing in combat, killing that transgressed the laws of war, and the impact of race and racial attitudes on killing.

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Fighting Means Killing is the first book-length treatment of the nature of killing in Civil War combat, and bridges the gap between military and social history"-- Read more...