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Personal Letters and the Civil War, Essay Example

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Document 13.6 “Fred Spooner, Letter to His Brother Henry” is written by a Northerner to his brother Henry (p. 418). Based on his belief in the superiority of the North and the notion that slavery was weakening the South, Fred decided to join the Union army. This changes my understanding of the history of the Civil War because I believed people joined the Union army for a very different reason; based on how I’ve been taught about the Civil War previously, I was led to believe that people joined the Union army many due to patriotism for the Northern states and the want to fight against slavery. The aspect of this letter that does not surprise me is the inherent hatred the North has for the South due to their different ideologies. When Fred writes to his brother he calls them phrases such as gas and hag; a good portion of this letter is aimed mainly to insult Southerners.

Document 13.7 “John Hines, Letter to His Parents” is written by a Confederate soldier to his parents (p. 419). The letter discusses his frightening first battle in detail, although he is proud and excited of his participation in the Confederate army. This letter demonstrates that like Fred who was a member of the Union army, the young men in the Confederate army were equally excited in participating in what they saw to be an excellent way to stand up for the values of their people. Contrasting Fred’s approach in writing, John Hines is less quick to insult the other army; he was simply describing the battle for what it was: bloody, long, and dangerous.

Document 13.8 “Ginnie Ott, Letters to Enos Ott” is written by a soldier’s wife to her husband in the army; she details about how the area has suffered many shortages and problems due to the Confederate and Union army’s struggle over their area, Augusta County, Virginia (p. 420). This information supports what I already knew about the Civil War; it makes a lot of sense that areas between the North and South would suffer the most due to land disputes. In addition, war times are usually associated with a decrease in the availability of food and other goods; frequently areas who experience this deprivation simply have to wait out the war in order for their lives to return to normal.

Document 13.9 “Katharine Prescott Wormley, Letter to Her Mother” discusses the female contribution to the Civil War in the North (p. 421). I found Wormley’s contribution to be interesting because we don’t frequently hear about women’s efforts during wartime; although women contributed significantly to the efforts of World War II, there seems to be a lack of information about their causes during other time periods. Based on her description, being a nurse for the Union was a difficult but rewarding job.

Document 13.10 “Thomas Freeman, Letter to His Brother-in-Law” (p. 423) details the experience of the black man during the Civil War. While I did know that the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Colored Infantry was one of the Union’s first black units, I didn’t realize the discrimination that these people faced until I read this document; I assumed that they were treated fairly because of their status as fighters who represent the Union. The men who joined the army expected to receive state aid for their family, which never came in a majority of cases. In addition, many black soldier’s believed that they would be unable to advance their positions in this country because they were working for room and board rather than paid wages. Many black soldiers failed to see this as an improvement over slavery, and therefore concluded that their rights as soldiers and inhabitants of the North were being violated.

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