The Civil War of 1861 to 1865, was the premise of a change that would forever alter the face of a diverged country. The conflict between the North and the South involved problems starting with militia precursors, to moral and economic struggles. The Civil War would not be understood without being recorded through the words of soldiers and their families.
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Historical letters contain such details. Letters such as the one from Ruth Maria Strong, who was writing to her son in 1862 warning him about a typhoid fever going around, while still providing him with the only thing more important than the war her motherly love.
Another letter in that same year, written by Captain Charles Scott, described the horrors of one of the deadliest battles; Battle of Shiloh. In his 4-page letter he describes the morning of the attack, as well as writing about his coward troops. This type of context helps gain a better understanding of the lives of troops during the Civil War, as well as sympathize for them in the sense that they are risking their lives in what would become one of the biggest wars for America.
To begin with, when looking back at the Civil War, soldiers from opposing sides can be seen as savages, but within those conniving minds, there is an individual that loves them. Such proof can be found in letters such as the one from Ruth Maria Strong, who was writing to her son. Union soldier, Arthur Tappan Strong, was a 42nd Ohio Volunteer that was under the control of Colonel James Garfield. Showing indications of motherly love, Ruth states, I sent you one pair of socks, which mother knit for her soldier boy, may he live to need more (Strong, 1862). Documentation like this suggests that Ruth was merely concerned for her sons life. Her letter also shows how sending knitted socks to her son was a reoccurring event in her life, and she is willing to make more for him, if he lives. The main point here is that there is an obvious worry lurking in Ruths mind.
Furthermore, in the second page of her letter she also writes, We hear that the typhoid fever is among you (ibid). This is a very spine-chilling statement that must be horrific to read as a troop. The typhoid fever was an infectious disease that is received by drinking or eating contaminated food, and this was what took the lives of 80,000 soldiers during the Civil War. Ruth is explaining to her son what to do if he is exposed with typhoid fever. She is giving him several instructions, such as getting pure air, being as quite as possible, and to wash with tepid castile soap, (ibid). As a soldier in active duty, the last thing they would have wanted to agonize about is getting infected. The typhoid fever was ironically not only the cause of Arthur’s death, but the deaths of 65,000 Confederate and Union troops. As it happens, life as a soldier was all but an enjoyable excursion. They had to spend most of their time fighting off other problems such as; lice, ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos (America: A Narrative History, 2016). This goes to show that Arthurs death was a tragedy that was bound to transpire. The chances to have survived these different afflictions in a time of poor medical advancements, was all but pleasurable. The fact that Ruth had to write to her son apprehensively about a deathly fever could make readers feel a hint of compassion for those who were seen as the enemy.
Equally significant, with the many battles of the Civil War, there is one prestigious clash to mention; The Battle of Shiloh in 1962. After Grant made a costly mistake in revealing 42,000 of his soldiers in the eyes of Confederate General Johnston, the Union was attacked at a surprise (America: A Narrative Story, 2016). Nevertheless, it consisted of a Union victory in the sense that Commander Ulysses S. Grant fired a counteroffensive amongst the line known as Hornets Nest. With this tactic, the North was able to overpower Confederate forces, and advance them further into the northern Mississippi (Battle of Shiloh Facts & Summary, 2018). Moreover, letters from troops of the Battle of Shiloh is a rarity. One significant letter that was written in 1963 from Captain Charles Scott, is exceptional in showing the horrors of the battle. In his letter, Scott writes to his wife the morning of the attack, I do not yet know what may be the result, but from the persistency of the attack, there must be a heavy loss on both sides (Scott, 1962).
What Scott meant with this phrase was that he believed the battle was going to be bloody he was right. The Union had a count of 13,047 casualties, while the Confederates had 10,667. One key point in his letter was that he mentioned some of his men were cowards for trying to retreat to grasp protection in the boats. I saw them drown. And I assure you they were the first Men I ever saw drown that I was willing to stand and look on without trying to render them assistance (ibid). Many would consider this to be a deceitful action by Scott in letting his own men die, but in reality, those men that were trying to escape, were not dutiful in the Union. This proves that even while succeeding, several men in the Union could not seize to do anymore fighting, especially when participating in the horrors of the Battle of Shiloh.
To conclude, both the letter from Ruth Maria Strong, and Captain Charles Scott have one thing in common the negatives. Ruth Maria Strong has shown love towards her son when he most needed it. In her mind, the idea about her sons death ponders within her mind, but that doesnt let her have a whit of ambition. Charles Scott on the other hand, within experiencing what no one else could imagine in todays world, closed his letter with saying that he had not slept in 60 hours, and assures his love to his wife Anna (Scott, 1962). Both letters are in no sense of the same topic, but they do present a clear idea of the Civil War for the North in 1862.
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