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“Such a Dirty Set of Creatures”

“Such a Dirty Set of Creatures”

The Divide between Union Soldiers and Civilians

(p.7) 1 “Such a Dirty Set of Creatures”
Across the Divide
Steven J. Ramold
NYU Press

This chapter examines the divide that existed between Union soldiers and civilians in the North during the Civil War. It argues that the separation between soldier and civilian was caused by the “hardening” of soldiers as a result of their experiences in combat. It considers how the harsh experiences led to a decline in traditional moral values and insensitivity to death and suffering as soldiers set aside the civilian morality that defined their prewar existence. Hardening, the chapter suggests, was a subtle process that culminated in the detachment of the soldier from prewar ideals, as evidenced by their declining acceptance of traditional social mores. The chapter also discusses the morally hardened Union Army's attitudes toward the Confederate Army and newspapers, as well as the soldier's casual acceptance of violence and death. Finally, it looks at letters from home as a means of correspondence between soldiers and families, along with the Union soldiers' flimsy sense of connection with residents of the Border States.

Keywords:   civilians, Union soldiers, Civil War, Union Army, Confederate Army, newspapers, violence, death, letters, Border States

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