Trauma and the Civil War

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Thursday February 15

7:00 PM  –  8:00 PM

Civil War soldiers were not born without fear or immune to the psychological blows of combat. Survivors often left the battlefield dazed and confused, physically battered, and emotionally gutted. Civil War Americans seemingly had little empathy for soldiers who staggered to the rear, broken down by the violence. They believed that men of courage always persevered, always neutralized negative memories of the battlefield, always did their duty. Why did so many Americans condemn soldiers overwhelmed by the horrors of war as having a flawed character, as being cowardly at heart, as unworthy of being called a man? Carmichael will pursue his question through a range of letters and reports from soldiers and physicians that will shed light on the distinctive ways through which Civil War Americans understood battlefield trauma.