For Cause and Comrades: What They Fought For by James McPherson

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

First, who is the author of this book. A book which has received for clear in-depth thoughts on the core basis of how, why and what pushed these brave men on both sides of the opposition to continue an intensive, long fight. And we all know this fight alone didn’t just change American history. It changed world history as we know it and it will forever be in the great books for many more centuries to come. This fight was indeed the Civil War. This war was based on selected soldiers divided into Union and Confederate. It takes a spark of brilliance for one to not only understand a situation he is not facing head on but to grasp the opinions of both side, this takes a whole of other level of brilliance. The author of this book is historian James McPherson. Some might say this book is his greatest work till date and believe me he has many great books which just show his brilliance. The book is based on an in- depth look at soldiers’ letters and writings, McPherson’s investigation talks about things like, what pushed the fighting men on both oppositions to enroll and what held them through the fright and sufferings of war. It normally shows at the early stages of when a war is about to begin. McPherson also showed that it was unusual at how the men were exhilarated to go to war. Normally it takes some time to get motivated properly. But during the civil war they took it so easily. McPherson’s investigation suggests that while on the outside it looked like some men were fighting for a just reason, but deep down some were hungry for personal glory and praises. Some fought to prove their masculinity. Others fought to prove their bravery and to prove it to their community. Some fought based on their strong beliefs and the principles they believed in.

From time to time over the span of many years the questions of “what made these men do it? What motivated them to advance into that wall of fire.” (3). Why would one fight and die during the Civil War. To find the answer, he turned to thousands of letters and diaries written by soldiers during the war. The result of his in-depth investigation, For Cause and Comrades, explains what soldiers fought for and how they coped with the fear and stress of battle. McPherson analyzes numerous categories, but these three categories seem to stand out more than others. Why soldiers enlisted, why they stayed in the army and why they engaged in fighting. He finds that, in the Civil War, there was exceptional consistency in the motivations across all three categories. Although factors like training and leadership were important, McPherson contends that the will to fight came down to individual character. In the Civil War, some of the men who some say had genuine reasons in both the Union and Confederate armies were those who had a strong belief in their cause and a commitment to their brothers in the army. Another reason was ones love for his community which was a major factor, they also believed themselves to be fighting for liberty. McPherson didn’t just write this book for to a set of people. He wrote this book on his own accord in hope of clearing anyone’s lingering thoughts on the questions left unanswered. Through the book you can see he put it in utmost effort in being explanatory as much as possible yet still very clear.

Bravery was a main reason that soldiers engaged in fighting. McPherson explains that enlisted men gradually accepted conditions with their fear and eventually figured out that courage was not an absence of fear but a will to fight despite it being there. In addition to all these factors like courage, honor and self-respect brought men to face battle other than run away from it or fake sickness. Finally, army group togetherness was a noteworthy motivating factor in the fight, though McPherson maintains that this element has been exaggerated in context on the common soldier. Men also didn’t want to look cowardly but also realized that fighting together brought about better fighting tactics. All the reasons that Civil War soldiers gave for enrolling and battling influenced the mood among soldiers. Other elements also impacted army confidence. Politics played a critical part as well.

McPherson was tactical and detailed and If this work of pure art suffers from anything, it suffers from the lack sources. His work stands out for its extensive scholarship and wonderfully clear composition, as well the author’s daring disposition to reject modern assumptions and doubt about the past. In all I read, I found that the book answers what it was asked of. And answers the questions Mcpherson was looking for. Even though it had few sources some might say it is lacking evidence, but I say it is well constructed and complete.


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