tv The Civil War Common Civil War Soldiers CSPAN March 31, 2018 6:01pm-7:01pm EDT
announcer: you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of american history programming every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter to keep up with our schedule and the latest history news. announcer: next, from the annual american civil war symposium in richmond, virginia, historian and civil war institute college director peter carmichael "will the real common civil war soldier please stand up?" this is an hour-long talk.
>> our last speaker today is dr. peter s carmichael, professor of civil war studies and director of the civil war institute at gettysburg college. atearned his phd pennsylvania state university where he wrote his dissertation directiondirect in -- of gary gallagher. that dissertation became his first book, published in 2005. his own work and teaching have been synthesized into making scholarship accessible. as a distinguished lecturer and as the gettysburg first scholar in residence and works closely with the staff. before he was so closely associated with gettysburg, he in theis summers working
andsylvania national park the richmond battlefield. i suspect many of you may have taken tours at some point in time when he was simply known as young pete carmichael. thats during those years he researched and wrote his .ooks on artillery his program today is based on above that will be coming out in october. you will get a nice sneak peak. and you will find advance publication flyers outside. is the war for the common soldier. it is a volume in the award-winning littlefield series on the history of the civil war era. the last time he spoke for this museum was in 1997. the year before we began our
partnership with the library of virginia. you may remember he had an audience arrange their chairs in a big circle. it was so he can interact more informally, the way he was accustomed to doing on battlefield tours and in the classroom. the seats in this auditorium do not move. stay put. if he tries again, just ignore him. to answer the question will the real common soldier please stand up, i give you dr. peter carmichael. [applause] >> if we could move our chairs in a circle, i am sure c-span would not go for that. for those of you on my battlefield tours, maybe you would remember me if i put my back on andhat
covered up these many gray hairs. first of all, let me say how honored i am to be here, how appreciative i am of what christie and her staff have done. it is always a joy to be back in richmond. i would not be here speaking about this topic if it wasn't for dr. robertson's work. he gave his dissertation, it was a book i read in junior high school. back in indiana. i still have that copy. it's a paperback. i would love a first edition hardback. i will get that someday. it was a book that had such a profound impact on me. you all heard dr. robertson speak this morning. in that book, like his talk today, he has a great empathy for the subjects that we love so much. that empathy is it essential to being very business-oriented. -- a very good historian. it is great to see dr. robertson and have an opportunity to thank
him for all he has done for the field and his influence on my own scholarship. when i started the book, i set out to find the one man who could stand for all of the experiences of the approximately in theon and listed civil war armies. my research quest reminded me of a tv show i enjoyed when i was a kid, to tell the truth. if you recall, they had a panel of four hollywood celebrities. kitty carlisle was always present. they would ask three contestants a range of questions with the idea of exposing the imposters. by elimination, you would reveal the one individual who had often done something unusual in their life. to identify the person who could stand up as the real common
soldier, i came up with my questions. did the men have strong, political convictions? was he courageous in battle? did he forge a bond with his comrades? was he religious? did he remain moral? -- loyal? above all else, did this man do his duty? all these questions, according to prevailing historical wisdom, the answers must be yes, or the man cannot stand up and be counted as the common soldier. my research led me to the a farmer in monroe county, new york. he volunteered in 1861, he didn't make it through the summer, he was discharged because of sickness. two years later, he enlisted in -- i'm sorry, the
147th. he did so under prescription and the lore of bounty, but above all else, he wanted to redeem himself in the eyes of his family. he had issues. who doesn't? with their family? i didn't. my mom is probably watching this. i had the perfect childhood. but he did have issues. he called himself the black sheep. he confided to his wife. they never gave him credit for being much of a man. patriotism didn't mean much to him. he didn't see himself as a " or "unionrieker saver." his ledgers, published under the title no freedom shrieker. they are outstanding collections of letters.
he gets into the army, october 4, 1863, he steps off of a train, enters the barracks, he's given a blanket, russians, he -- putrid rations, and that night he can barely sleep. he wrote to his wife that he thought he would freeze to death. the next morning, he wrote to his wife, i have a foundation of a discharge already laid in the shape of a bad cold and rheumatism. he did not get that discharge. he is sent into virginia, where the army of the potomac is in winter quarters, he joins the 147th new york. immediately he starts , criticizing the officers. he says they were incompetent, cruel, and slowly killing the men through needless marches. all he had to do was look at his own body for proof. he started to wear down during a november march. his leg swelled, the area
-- diarrhea struck, and by his own calculations in a 24 hour period, he expelled over 30 passages of the bowels and passed so much blood and mucus and became so weak that i could hardly stand alone. back in camp, you can imagine what he did. he approached a surgeon, sought a discharge, and was denied because his claim was for rheumatism, that was the ploy of the malingerer. he was pushed almost of his breaking point, he nearly boiled over on december 27. toknew that to desert was bring internal shame to yourself and your family. he wrote, " cursed be the day that i saw my name drawn as a conscript. damn the hour i made up my mind to come as a drafty.
-- draftee. i think sometimes if it was not for you and my children, i would blow out my brains. damn the south, the war, and all that had anything to do in getting it up or co -- getting it up." in early may, as the army readied itself for its spring campaign, he was hobbling about camp. he approached the surgeons and they said no. his comrades came and said don't let the doctors get in the way. you need to join the blue ridge corps. it is a euphemism for deserters. their compass only points one direction, the direction is north. he decided against it. he decided to turn his back on his wayward comrades. he followed the army of the potomac into the wilderness. the next two months, there is continuous marching and
fighting. he was eventually outside of richmond. on june the 12th, he wrote to -- to his wife, "men are beginning to get sick now, that is the excitement of battle. they are thinking over the narrow escapes they have had and counting up those friends who have been killed or winded -- wounded. dreary foreboding fills our hearts as we think of what has been done and what is left to be done." he could not imagine another day in the ranks, let alone two more years in enlistment. worse than alife cat does hot soup," he exclaimed to his wife. i will stufft out,
my old uniform with straw, up in a corner when i feel out of humor just to remind me that home is not the worst place in the world where a man can enjoy life." 11 days later, he was issued a new boss. -- blouse. he had to bid farewell to his but he still wanted to send it home. he wanted to send it home not as a punching bag, but now he wanted to display his coat as a sacred artifact attesting to his services and sacrifice. "i should like to save it as a souvenir of the hard-fought battles, i should like to keep it with all of its dust, samples of different soils from culpepper to this place.
it is not much of a coat now, it is torn and ragged, it is ripped under the arms. still, as i look at it as it hangs on the but of my musket, i think more of it than i ever did of any article of dress ever owned in my life before." surprisingly, the battlefield filled a void in his life, yet his confusion about combat was born out in his equivocation over how to treat his dirty coat. should he preserve it is a treasured artifact of the emotional and patriotic value? or burn it with the rest of the ragged and filthy uniforms? his indecision over keeping it underscores how he was drawn to and repulsed by the killing fields of war. he was stunned by what he had done and seen.
so many of his comrades had fallen by his side, but their death unleashed a newfound love for union while sealing his sense of obligation to his comrades. his example shows that soldiering was never a state of being, but a process of becoming. any attempt to put the label common soldier on a man encourages stereotyping of the rank and file. a stereotyping that pivots around the following. was a man loyal or dislike? -- disloyal? brave or cowardly? political or a political? idealistic or disillusioned? the story reveals he was all of these things at different times in the war. he also reminds us of the importance of evaluating soldier letters within the swallow
-- within events over an extended period of time. rather than extracting reactions from a single letter. it is this cherry picking of quotes that reinforces the popular characterization that civil war soldiers were men of duty who saw the world with astonishing clarity and acted upon the perceptions of servitude. -- certitude. men on both sides simply did not consult their principles and sentiments and act accordingly. it did not take long for these men to appreciate that circumstances controlled army life. and that adaptability, more than any other trait, that is what distinguished the ways civil war soldiers thought and acted. a soldier captured this perspective when he outlined the essential qualities valued by the rank and file. we want a man of greater flexibility of character. a man of rough and ready energy
who also knows how to adapt himself to the circumstances and men in all conditions. to adapt himself to circumstances. that is at the core of a spontaneous philosophy in civil armies that can best be described as pragmatism. pragmatism made it possible for union and confederate soldiers to live with the contradictory elements of their violent and volatile existence without following a pretty double course of action determined by some , class, ideology, or political interest. to illustrate pragmatism, i am going to illustrate the stories of three men. those three men are charles walling, alexander keever, and john foster. you are going to see all three of these men were always improvising and thinking in the moment. always flexible in their actions and trying to survive while also trying to meet their
obligations. to god, family, and the nation. in the weeks that followed the disastrous union defeat at fredericksburg in 1862, charles bowen awoke every morning greeted by thend panoramic view of raised heights and the old battlefield. he dubbed it the burnside slaughterhouse. he had survived the slaughterhouse, he took cover behind a corpse that he described as having the whole top of his head carried off by a shell. the eyes were open, and stared at me when i looked at him. he couldn't take it anymore and he exposed himself to enemy fire and pushed the corpse aside. the next morning he made his way back into town.
what did he find? the host of the army of the potomac engaged in the looting of the city of fredericksburg. what did he do? he joined the fray, he got himself drunk. he stole some food and made his way down into a house lowered by red by the -- lu sound of another drunk soldier playing a piano. he joined these other men in singing a song. he leaves his regiment, engages in the looting of the town, then admits to it in a letter with his wife. i got on my bottle of wine and felt as good as general burnside or any other man." his brazen disregard of military law and authority is startling. his example shows how civil war soldiers were weighed down by extreme physical, and emotional stress.
they rewrote notions of duty to meet demands of the moment. he could've never have imagined that the bold soldier boys of 1861 could have embarked on a rampage in fredericksburg with such a wild and fierce joy. since the battle, he was feeling lonely and sad, she was caring -- he missed his wife, sarah, who was caring for his infant daughter. it was made worse by the fact that the union cause was utterly doomed. his outcry against the war was tied into an ugly not of and disappointments ranging from poor conditions to poor generalship, a callous bureaucracy, and an indifferent homefront. "i once did blame the deserters, but time shows more plainly that the corruption of some of our chief officials i can blame no
man for leaving this rotten old pollock and worse than drunken crew who manage." all things considered, he should have deserted. he threatened to do so, but he did not do it. why he didn't do it is the big question i am interested in. to be able to understand that, we need to stay in his shoes. ironically what kept them in the , ranks was the very thing soldiers grouse about, the daily grind. deprivations, the hardships, the work, the tedium. ultimately, that is what he found deep meaning in. daily acts, in camp, when he looked at one of his poor comrades. take on comrade had to some extra work, to do some laundry. this poor comrade was
illiterate, he was supporting a wife that had five kids in minnesota. how hard it is for some to have large families to support, to be kept out of their pay for six months more at a time. and to keep receiving letters from home begging for money to buy bread and meat for their starving little one. this man i speak of is one of those unfortunates. he cannot read writing, and always brings me his letters to read to him. many i have read that would bring tears from stone. such is war. cruel, heartless, bloody war that starves the innocent and enriches the guilty. was it difficult for boeing to empathize with his comrade? he himself was walking around cap nearly -- camp nearly
barefoot, his shoes and socks were in tatters, and his hands were freezing. he couldn't afford a . the empty pockets are important when you understand why more men did not desert. you had to have money and resources. once you leave the army, you have thrown your family on the brink of destitution. i should add about him, one reason why he was hard-pressed for funds, he liked to gamble a lot. i am not sure he was as successful as he reported back home, but he had a little issue with that. at times, his situation is stabilized. it stabilized enough that he did not leave. i want to try to push forward here. there is another telling moment that occurred after fredericksburg. an incident he had with a drunken comrade. at this time, he was a sergeant, and he ordered a man to move firewood in camp. the man had too much to drink and refused. the man lunged at bow in. though in cash lunged at him.
he hit the man with one blow over the head and wrote to his family, nearly crushed his skull. when the man came to, he said here is a 40 pound log, you are going to march around camp with it. at the end of a letter, he said i think he got off easy -- at the end of the letter, he said i think he got off easy. he said i am going to risk this man taking a stray shot at me in battle. this confrontation was so powerful in his mind, because he reflected upon his enlistment and how much he has changed. when he thought about 1861, he wrote, it is a time that seems like a dream through which i have passed. though it is so indelibly impressed on memory that i shall never forget it while life shall be mine. i was one of the greenest specimens that has ever been in the army.
no self-reliance, i knew nothing of the ways of the world. i was a perfect know nothing. he admitted it. his schoolmaster, the army, had not been tender, but he could appreciate how the army had transformed soldiers into professionals. it is wonderful to see what a change will take place in a man's disposition. i will quickly conclude that she did not leave the army, he fought all the way to the summer of 1864, when his enlistment ended and he returned to new york. but the point is that this move towards professionalization cannot be separated from the idea of union. it cannot be separated from the fact that this was a man that was deeply racist, but believed emancipation was necessary. he came to believe that african-american soldiers were to be respected and admired, especially because he knew if you get captured by the army of
northern virginia, or any confederate army, and if you are a black soldier, you are not going to make it as a pow. behind a massive trench, north carolinians alexander keever stared across a barren swath of land between opposing union and confederate line of petersburg. the day rarely passed when he did not spot squads of confederates running towards the enemy without rifles, and zip in cash their hands up in -- their hands up in the air, begging to be taken prisoner. the site caused him to wonder if they're safe escape was not a sign of above. yet, the north curling in -- north carolinian remained confused about the course of the conflict.
was he a pond of impersonal forces, an agent of providence, or a man in control of his own future? persecuted oreing was the south facing god's wrath alone? civil war soldiers struggled to find consistent answers to these questions. the vast majority looked to the heavens for guidance, it including him, who found comfort in resigning himself to providence. it is better for a man to trust in the lord then run a risk to desert. he read that in 1965. there was a man who left the company last week and he was taken up then brought back and put in the guardhouse, and he may be shot. right there in that sentence you , can hear the conflicting voices in his head as to how she -- how he should act. one could trust in god all he wanted, but he acknowledged it was the confederate military
that was the supreme authority in determining whether a deserter would live or die. to a social intimate, it must have been clear that he wanted out of the ranks, but he still struggled to disavow the confederacy, even when desertion, as we all know, was a logical choice for thousands of these soldiers. what appears obvious to us was not so obvious to him. why did he hesitate? desertion for them was never a simple matter of national allegiance, nor a question about what was practical. to him, to desert was to call into question his entire moral and ethical universe. a step that is difficult for any man to do because on the front lines, god's ways were indecipherable. he wasn't confused about why he should desert, he had a long list of grievances against the confederacy.
it was having an enemy to the front, and a firing squad to the rear, that kept him fixed. not out of consent, but out of coercion. war worriedout the him as well, because he knew that military service was killing him by degrees. he wrote to his wife, my flowers all died that you and mother sent to me, and now i will have to part rations, and i dread it. by the end of february 1865, he was desperate. he began mapping out his escape from the army, telling his wife to expect him by springtime. so he could help with the plowing of the fields. four days later, after studying the situation with comrades, he decided the risk of running was too great. remaining in the army was the best chance of survival. deserting, as he explained to
his wife, unexpectedly turned into self isolation. or a death sentence. it is too far to walk and too dangerous, also. if i go home, i cannot stay there unless i would hide out. that would be worse than to stay the officers would find me they would send me back here and i would be shot to death and that would be worse than for me to stay. his reasons for remaining in the ranks were sound, pregnant it, and devoid of pragmatic. forgotten that his chances of surviving in the army were bleak. tipping the scales against desertion for us a care package of his brother. it had food and clothes and other necessities. said hegot that, he would try to wait it out until this care package that he got from his brother.
imagine that his wife must've been so frustrated. if her brother-in-law had been sent this care package, what could have. now it appears he is set. last letter from the front, he seemingly reached his final decision. only god could deliver him safely from the army. odds were too steep. dangers were to much. wife, i do hope and trust in the lord that this cruel work will soon end. it will send us poor soldiers to get home and see our beloved families. i do not know how to wait any longer, but i will have to wait until it pleases the lord for me to be loosed from this cruel yoke of bondage. if it is his will, i will come
home and see you one more time. it is his will for me to die here, it is all right for me. a statement of submission has a sense of finality to it. a resolution to accept whatever may come. three days later, he suddenly decided that he was his own master and his destiny resided in his hands and not gods. with four other men, he flipped ran and surrendered. he was sent overly to washington, d.c. as a pow. he spent a few months, took the oath of allegiance, and returned to north carolina. his crisis of allegiance called into question whether god's relationship to the people was truly knowable or if matters were situational and open to revision.
the board did not trigger a crisis in race with him. he discovered that they could not afford to rely on god absolutely and unconditionally if they hope to survive in the ranks. alexander keever was a providential pragmatist. pennsylvania's john foster who was in the one 55th looked to the 18 64 campaign with trepidation. he had not fully recovered from .is eddie's burke wound his captain was not sympathetic to his situation. foster had a promotion coming and was expecting it every day. it had not arrived. his captain said you will have to carry a musket and your cartridge box. thanr was more
disappointed. thatlt that his offer -- he was being persecuted. positive shame in giving a gun to carry. if we go on a hard march and i cannot carry the gun, and i cannot keep up, i will throw the gun away. cost me over $20 and i will not be troubled with one for that amount. at the end of that letter, foster predicted i will not go into an engagement if i can possibly avoid it. just one day before the fighting erupted in the wilderness, foster reaffirmed his promise that he would finish once the fighting erupted. in all probability he wrote, there will be a battle here or near here but i am going to try to keep out of it if there is any possible chance.
the next day, foster was with his regiment advancing toward saunders field. foster accompanied that, it is impossible to say. without a doubt, the march had aggravated his injured leg. he left the ranks without authorization and joined a wagon train making its way back to fredericksburg. there he was arrested. i don't know how he whittled out that he did. he got out of it with another captain of his unit. they got some kind of pass. not fully authorized. they got on a train and headed up to washington dc and once it in ahere, he checked boarding house. he did not go to a hospital because he feared that he would be sent right back down to his regiment. the boarding house that he
rented, and he rented it with two other officers. when i read this it was startling to me in terms of how we understand desertions. , you see howen many men probably fled from battle on both sides. record thaton their they had deserted. clear, but hestay could do it because he had a bit of pocket change. he had $30. with that $30 he could pay his room and board but he stayed in that room. lettershis wife, his are some of the most fascinating and graphic letters i have ever read. the intimacy in which he expressed his sexual longings for his wife are truly shocking. was so open with his wife about what he intended to do.
i will plate lieutenant for a while, as long as i can. i don't care for the consequences are. they can more than shoot me, but they cannot call me a good dazzler. i do not know what i will do yet. rather, what will be made to do. room hee he was in his started to get newspapers. in of thes coming fighting. he is trying to piece together the fate of his comrades. he was able to figure out that his regiment had suffered serious losses. 125 men have been killed or wounded. about 1/5 of the regiment. staggering losses i am sure confirmed in his mind that he had made the right decision. deserting probably saved his life. but the isolation started to get
to him. his nerves were afraid and he didn't believe he could get back to the ranks. he wrote, i'm going to get out of service if possible. i cannot stand it out on the front any longer. he wrote that on may 13. the next day, an about-face. himselfed to get at the getting arrested distribution cap, he tried to get out of the army once more. he wrote his wife and said the only reason i didn't get a medical releases that i didn't know the doctors. he arrived at his unit, locked into camp and his captain refused to speak to him. why hisouldn't imagine captain was so angry. obviously, foster was deceiving himself. he had just abandoned his comrades in this bloody
campaign. but it is so paradoxical. this man possessed strong political convictions for the side that he abandoned. he had built a stellar combat record. he believed in the union cause with fervency. he had no toleration for antiwar dissent. he wrote his wife about the copperhead movement and about meetings in his community that were peace meetings. he wrote to her, i am very sorry to hear of those peace meetings. they who hold these meetings are anding but mean, cowardly, yesterday late. my god, if there was only a few soldiers about there, i would rather imagine their meetings would terminate in a manner not altogether acceptable to them. when he abandoned his regiment in the wilderness, he never saw
himself as being unprincipled self-serving. circumstances had changed. out of necessity, foster greet triggered his sense of duty abstractions.s to only to the reality is he perceived it in the moment. demonstratethey that adhering to a strict code of conduct proved unsustainable in the field. the shock of war, the daily grind blurred these well-established binaries that had trained the expectations of military service in 61. volunteers were supposed be dutiful or disobedient. oil or disloyal, brave or cowardly. , the hallmark of pragmatism, empowered soldiers to shape themselves to the ground conditions of war and the ideas themselves could also bend.
i think these examples also point to the fluidity of loyalty with we heard earlier. i will quote her advisers. was often the product of events. evident in my final example, the story of an illiterate north carolinians futch.ohn he had his brother charlie died in his arms. he had always despised the war for his inhumanity. his brother's death pushed him over the brink of desertion. he was illiterate. i will reach you by -- i will reach you his letters. he spoke them to a comrade who was barely literate himself. there's a great website called
voices. university of georgia, private voices. they are filled with letters like this. illiterate and semi literate men speaking about the war in face-to-face conversations. this is back in virginia. august 1863. he said, charlie got killed and he suffered a great deal from his wound. he lived a night and a day after he was wanted. we seen hard times there, but we don't get enough to eat here. -- but we't know now don't now, as to myself i did enough. for i don't want nothing to eat hardly. i am almost sick all the time and half crazy. i never wanted to come home so bad in my life, but it is so that i can't come at this time.
if we come south i will try to come home anyhow, as i want to come home so bad. army unraveled, the physical circumstances of lee's command, breaking down. comradesled him and 11 to take on august 20, their muskets, ammunition and fled for north carolina. it is in that moment that he acted out of pragmatic considerations. revealing a malleable sense of duty that was also shared by the famous union soldier and future supreme court justice oliver holmes. he told his parents about his concept of duty on june 7, 1864. i started this thing as a boy. i'm now a man. i have been coming to the conclusion for the last six months that my duty has changed. i can do a disagreeable thing or face a great danger coolly
enough when i know it is a duty. but a doubt demoralizes me. as it does any nervous man. now i honestly think the duty of fighting has ceased for me. ceased because i have laboriously and with much suffering of might and body earned the right. to decide for myself how i can best do my duty to myself, to the country, and if you choose to god. oliver wendell holmes and john futch could not have been more different in background and personality. pragmaticad a philosophy grounded in thinking. elevated individual consciousness at the arbitrator of duty. this was the common thread in how soldiers thought. it did not create a common experience.
soldiering assumed a highly andvidualized form varying they time and place of the war. toward the twisted soldier actions and thoughts and convoluted in contradictory ways. theith a panel from two to truth, we are able to ask three men, how did you cope with the physical strain and emotional pressures of having to survive in the ranks? the true veteran would stand up and would say i did my whole duty as far as i knew it. thank you. [applause] so we have about five minutes, but not a lot of time for questions. we can talk more after. any questions? the soldier from north
carolina who had deserted, was he executed after being caught? >> his name was john futch. he and 11 other soldiers were captured in scottsville virginia, which is a beautiful little town. they were sent when they got captured, a gunbattle erupted before. someone shot the officer in charge of the arresting party, and now they are doomed. they are sent to richmond and spent a few days in castle thunder. they were shipped back to the camps around month earlier. they were executed and that execution got to tremendous press in richmond and throughout the confederacy. what is a big part of my book is to understand how these men, as
deserters and when they were executed, how that was depicted to the public. how was it represented. first, they were given no names. there is no individuality about these soldiers. you have no sense that he was a combat veteran or that he lost his brother at gettysburg. no clue that he is starving in his camps. of course, nothing about the home front in which he had a wife and a child who were on the brink of destitution. she had sent him a number of letters pleading for him to return. the portrayal or depiction of him is so powerful. how that was received is so varied in terms of the class position of that confederate or white seven or. i suspect for many, they understood that even though he and his fellow deserters or condemned men, that they had
left for host of reasons, but the press portrayed them as common criminals. demonized them and made the point that what these men had done that they had brought dishonor and shame not just to themselves but to their families for generations to come. weave another. the mythology of soldiers doing their duty is so powerful immersed in a soldier life, i am wondering if you have found evidence in this book and in other places of soldiers being aware that the mythology is something that they can use and exploit to their advantage? >> i think that is an excellent question. they tried to use it to their advantage, but empty and it creates a separation with the
home front. on one hand they are frustrated with people back home that they don't have an appreciation of what is really happening at the front. atre particularly frustrated the press. but they believe these accounts that they are too romantic and sanitize war, but at the same time the sense of duty that they want to make sure the people back home fully understand and recognize and they don't, because the soldiers at the end of the day, these romantic accounts affirm how they want to be seen. they want to be seen as old soldier boys. they want to be seen as men looking to the front. that's what they want, but they couldn't have it both ways. as they increasingly feel a there arelienation, elements so good and so important and, have had a
profound impact on how i think about the relation between civilians and soldiers. i think your point is a good one. the other thing is that to also understand, these men were ambivalent. that ambivalence and when they spoke about doing their duty, was a record nation that there were other potential courses of action. for someone like charles lohman ,ho laments the intimate of war it is so powerful and so poignant, but the same man at petersburg who volunteered to take some kind of rifle and snaked his way up to a front-line position and used cracker boxes filled with sand and was an assassin. he spent the afternoon taking out confederate canada nears and then wrote to his wife that many of his comrades, lamented him for his workmanship.
he wrote that it did his soul good. that spentn tremendous amount of time with alabama soldiers and admire them. so, a contradictory consciousness. we need to get away from if it is romantic or dark. push that stuff aside. it is contradictory consciousness like all of us. many thingsday how i have stunned that are not in alignment. you can ask my wife, i'm sure she will say i say one thing and do another. we all do that. in history, this extraction of quotes and cherry picking is so sterile and static. it is so soft and doesn't get people in the moment. i search for when i'm looking at the past. that is what we want to try to do with these men. >> can you hear me?
i got it all wrong last time. wonderful. thank you so much. my question is can we put it together, this story or citizen soldiers reflecting society at home to conclude something however tentatively about american nationalism, confederate nationalism, is there -- you have about the pragmatic philosophy as if you're hinting at something. to speak to your question of nationalism, for the men that i have studied that is not the way they frame and understand their world. that is not how they ordered their world and how they projected. are these big political questions that interest us as historians. they tell us a great deal about the demise of confederacy and the success of union armies. but the questions we have used to something leads
somewhat artificial. that is a criticism of my own earlier work which are used as a starting point. the bottom line to this for me is that ideology and our interest in it and these incredibly rich letters that conveyed ideas and they are powerful. they meant something to these men. but we have become ideological determinist. the totality of their experience. we got a look at the physical environment. we looked at the cultural world. we have to look at the relationship with households. ,ou can speak of a divide because there wasn't one. until we take that together, i think we get something that is sterile and not the world they inhabited, but one that helps us >>e sense
>> one of the things we relish in his all letters home from soldiers and we wish we had letters to the soldiers from home. you talk a lot about the pragmatism and ask ability, from the letters from home to the soldiers, do you see the same sense of flexibility and pragmatism that you see in the soldiers? without a doubt. probably even more so. especially households like futch. with his departure from it you have a household that is now in a crisis. you can understand that these women and making these please for their husbands or sons to come back, these are not please that should be understood within the framework of nationalism. they're not calling for the union to win. it is a question of survival. we have to be sensitive to class
differences. situation is very unique and specific to north carolina. it is specific to his impoverished state. he was a non-slaveholder. we could find other slave -- other soldiers who were in a slaveholding society. their families were not exposed to invading armies. all of that figures into their perception of the war and to the demands they place on the soldiers. a soldier from indiana who was incredibly patriotic and ring the course of the war, to see the sacrifice and death of his comrades, led him to believe the only people who could truly understand his experience, who really committed were his comrades. he wrote to his wife and set the two men who died in his regiment byer gettysburg were buried their friends. he felt that way because his
wife showed almost no interest in the war. there was a fair amount of copperhead sentiment there. you start to see that she was living a life in the which the war hadn't touched her at all. she had no physical suffering or sacrifice. he was a lawyer and she had family. she still had reservations about the order and she still wanted him act. at the end of the day, her demands and her pressures are nothing like the pressures that martha futch else in asking john to come home. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> this sunday on 1968: america in turmoil, civil rights and race relations. our guest performer black panther and senior lecturer halfling cleaver.
-- kathleen cleaver. and pineal. watch 1968, america in turmoil. c-span's washington journal. and on american history tv on c-span3. weekend on american history tv, landscape historian talks about his recently published book on the history of the white house easter egg roll. here is a preview. >> the marine brand brought with it john philip sousa. be therole was to leader. he excelled with that. he included his own compositions , stars and stripes forever being the most well-known as well as a whole variety of popular music from the time.
>> as you were describing the harrison's all caps, i can envision our current president withng out to the portico grandchildren. history really continues. is the beauty of the easter egg role. it is one of the oldest and most .eeply loved traditions not just of the white house that all of washington, d.c.. entire program sunday at 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. eastern. american history tv, only on c-span3. sunday night on cue and date. high school students from around the country were in the for the annual united states senate youth program. we met with them at the historic mayflower hotel where they shared talks about government and politics. daca.m passionate about it is unfair that 700,000 men,
women and children hang in the balance because congress cannot find a solution. it is a bright issue. >> climate change is important to me. every other country in the world has recognized the detrimental impacts of climate change. currently, we have not stayed on course with the other countries. >> where the richest nation in the world and yet we have citizens who go bankrupt trying to cover a sick health-care costs. think that is an outrage. we should be ashamed. >> sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q and a. >> american history tv, a briefing for members of congress and their staffs on the history of the higher education act of 1965, signed by president lyndon johnson which offered federal
money to colleges and universities and financial assistance to students. historians trace the origins beginning with a push to science research as well as the funding of the g.i. bill in the 1940's. they explore congressional support for the measure, changes, and reauthorization's made to the act and the long-term impact of the federal government's impact. the national history center hosted this hour-long event. togood morning and welcome the congressional briefing on the higher education act. i am are needed jones. i am the executive. as the american historical association, through national history center that is sponsoring this event. is an effort to provide historical