What They Fought For, 1861-1865

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1994 - History - 88 pages
6 Reviews
InBattle Cry Of Freedom,  James M. McPherson presented a fascinating, concise  general history of the defining American conflict.  WithWhat They Fought For, he  focuses his considerable talents on what motivated  the individual soldier to fight. In an exceptional  and highly original Civil War analysis, McPherson  draws on the letters and diaries of nearly one  thousand Union and Confederate soldiers, giving voice  to the very men who risked their lives in the  conflict. His conclusion that most of them felt a keen  sense of patriotic and ideological commitment  counters the prevailing belief that Civil War soldiers  had little or no idea of what they were lighting  for. In their letters home and their diaries --  neither of which were subject to censorship -- these  men were able to comment, in writing, on a wide  variety of issues connected with their war  experience. Their insights show how deeply felt and  strongly held their convictions were and reveal far more  careful thought on the ideological issues of the  war than has previously been thought to be true.  Living only eighty years after the signing of the  Declaration of Independence, Civil War soldiers felt  the legacy and responsibility entrusted to them by  the Founding Fathers to to preserve fragile  democracy -- be it through secession or union -- as  something worth dying for. InWhat They  Fought For, McPherson takes individual voices  and places them in the great and terrible choir of  a country divided against itself. The result is  both an impressive scholarly tour de force and a  lively, highly accessible account of the sentiments  of both Northern and Southern soldiers during the  national trauma of the Civil War.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
2
4 stars
1
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
2

Review: What They Fought for, 1861-1865

User Review  - Mr Salyer - Goodreads

An excellent primary source (letters/diaries) review!! This would be an excellent book for those attempting to make sense of the Civil War. Read full review

Review: What They Fought for, 1861-1865

User Review  - Zach Vaughn - Goodreads

In "What They Fought For," James McPherson presents us with his study of the correspondence of Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War as an examination of what these men believed they ... Read full review

About the author (1994)

James M. McPherson is the author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, which won a Pulitzer Prize in history, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, a Lincoln Prize winner. He is the George Henry Davis Professor of American History at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he also lives. His newest book, entitled Abraham Lincoln, celebrates the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth with a short, but detailed look at this president's life.

Bibliographic information