Uniform TitleUncounted costs: the Civil War's impact on an infantry company's men and their families
NameHeaney, Michael K. (author), O'Neill, William (chair), Chambers, John (internal member), Rockland, Michael (internal member), Barnett, Louise (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
DescriptionMuch scholarship has focused on the experiences of soldiers in the American Civil War (1861-1865), and of those left behind on the home front. About 3 million men served in uniform during the war, and an even larger circle of family members – wives, parents, children, siblings – were significantly affected. Yet no significant body of scholarship has been devoted to describing the post-war lives of common soldiers or their loved ones.
This work is a modest attempt to begin correcting that deficiency. It focuses on 100
volunteers who comprised a Union infantry company from rural New Jersey, and their
family members. Relying primarily on information obtained from federal pension files, the study describes the lives these people led over the balance of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth.
The work first portrays the region and times the men grew up in, compares the volunteers as a group with all men who served in the Union Army, and examines their motivations for going to war and their particular wartime experiences. This section concludes that the company was in most respects typical of the Union Army, except for suffering an unusually high casualty rate; more than 40% of its volunteers died from wounds or disease. (A high-casualty company was chosen intentionally for the study.)
The work then investigates what can be determined about discrete aspects of the
veterans’ and/or their family members’ post-war lives, including: health and longevity; domestic and marital patterns; residence and migration; work, income, and wealth accumulation; pension claiming; post-war adjustment issues and dysfunction; and veterans’ memories of the war, and the meanings they attributed to it.
The work demonstrates that the life courses of the company’s surviving veterans, and of many of their loved ones (especially parents and wives), were generally difficult and economically tenuous, and often physically and/or emotionally painful. Though veterans and their wives displayed remarkable resilience and adaptability – many looking back with satisfaction at their wartime accomplishments and sacrifices - their post-war lives were
frequently hard and sometimes bleak: war’s “uncounted costs”.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 660-668).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.