By Bruce Catton
A desirable examine of the 1st sleek conflict and its impact on American tradition.
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Additional resources for America Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture
Even a major general would immediately lose control over his men if they found reason to suspect his courage. From army commander on down, he had to show physical courage rather ostentatiously. If he could not do this he could not do anything. The officer also had to realize that he was dealing with 53 America Goes to War citizen soldiers who, even after two years of war, would insist on remaining more citizen than soldier. They could be led anywhere, but they could hardly be driven at all. West Point training seemed to work two ways, in this connection.
There was an old regular army man, General Charles F. Smith— tall, slim, straight as a ramrod, with long flowing white mustachios—who knew instinctively how to lead men in action. He showed up at Fort Donelson with a division of green troops who had never before been under fire, and he had to lead them up a hill, through tangled woods and underbrush, in a charge on a Confederate line of trenches. He stuck his cap on the point of his sword, got out in front of his frightened greenhorns, and started off.
47 The Citizen Soldier T,HE American soldier has been much the same, probably, from the Revolutionary War down to the present day. He reflects the national character, and the national character has not changed a great deal. Weapons, tactics, strategic concepts, equipment—all of these may have changed enormously; yet the human material of which American armies are made is today very much as it was generations ago. As the battle record of many wars attests, this material has uniformly been pretty good.
America Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture by Bruce Catton