A Review Of The Book What They Fought For

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

What They Fought For is a non-fiction book. The book is intended for adult audiences. The book is split into three chapters. It was written by James M. McPherson, who is an American Civil War historian. The book was published by Louisiana State University Press, in Baton Rouge, 1994. The book is also classified as a document because it is an analysis of almost twenty-five thousand personal letters and more than a hundred diaries written by soldiers fighting in the Civil War in America.

What They Fought For is set in the time of the Civil War in America between 1861-1865. It follows the stories of the soldiers who fought on both sides of the war (North and South) and tells you their thoughts of the war and experiences they went through. Soldiers on both sides of the war had patriotic motives and their own personal thoughts concerning their will to fight. Politicians and the higher class saw the civil war as a war to end slavery. Some of the soldiers out on the field of battle had no idea what they were truly fighting for or why they were fighting, But the soldiers did fight with a sense of patriotism and fought to preserve democracy and freedom like their founding fathers. This patriotism boosted morale immensely and played a big part on both sides of the war.

The first chapter of the book follows the side of the south and the confederate army. The soldiers in the Confederacy were comparing the Civil War to the Revolutionary War. The south saw the north as kings or tyrants trying to oppress the south like King George did in the Revolutionary War. This boosted their morale and gave them a cause to fight. They thought about their forefathers and how they fought for their liberties and rights and urged them to fight for freedom. This chapter also provides Confederate soldiers letters and journals that they wrote during the war. These letters and journals were about how the Confederate soldiers felt about the war, northern “tyrants”, slaves, and a cry for the war to be over. The women in the south were often opposed to the war because it caused them to much trouble. Women’s homes were burned by the union and they would have to flee with their families.

In chapter two the book focuses on the Northern side of the US, the Yankees. The north fought for basically the same reason as the south, They fought for their ancestors who had fought for, freedom. In the journals, the Yankees felt that the south were traitors, and were insulting the rights that their forefathers fought and died for in the War with the British. Through keeping slaves and leaving the Union. The Yankees loved their country and would do anything to keep it going.

The last chapter of this book has to deal with one of the most important causes of the Civil War, and that cause is slavery. We all know that the South wanted to keep slavery and the North wants to get rid of slavery, and chapter three just gives us insight on both sides. The north wanted to get rid of the right to have slaves because it was against the Constitution and it was just wrong. Although, some Yankees thought it was the only way to get rid of the south, so they didn’t really care. The south felt that it was their right to have slaves. Even though one-third of Confederate soldiers didn’t even own slaves. The book comes to an end, it reminds us that Abraham Lincoln knew that the only way to end the war and bring the United States back together, was to end slavery.

This book didn’t really have any problems with it. The book knew what it was and the author obviously knew what he was doing. The only problem I had was reading some of the letters or some of the journal entries. That was only because the writing back then was a little more complex. Another minor complaint was that the author could have added some pictures of soldiers to get a feel of what the soldiers were going through.

The author was great with his research. He read over 25,000 letters and 100 journals/diaries. He explained everything he had to with his research. The format was good and the writing was great. He explained the thesis perfectly and executed everything else smoothly. I was blown away on how much research he did and how good the book was written. I really enjoyed the book.

I liked this book as it was very well written. This book has shown me the reasons why the Civil War happened and what the soldier’s motives were. Both sides of the battlefield had the same motivation, they fought for freedom and for their country. We had the same motives for the same country. Yet we still fought. 


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