Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War



Many Americans, Argues Michael C C Adams, Tend To Think Of The Civil War As Glorious, Less Awful, Than The Reality Millions Of Tourists Flock To Battlefields Each Year As Vacation Destinations, Their Perceptions Of The War Often Shaped By Reenactors Who Work Hard For Verisimilitude But Who Cannot Ultimately Simulate Mutilation, Madness, Chronic Disease, Advanced Physical Decay In Living Hell, Adams Tries A Different Tack, Clustering The Voices Of Myriad Actual Participants On The Firing Line Or In The Hospital Ward To Create A Virtual Historical Reenactment.Perhaps Because The United States Has Not Seen Conventional War On Its Own Soil Since 1865, The Collective Memory Of Its Horror Has Faded, So That We Have Sanitized And Romanticized Even The Experience Of The Civil War Neither Film Nor Reenactment Can Fully Capture The Hard Truth Of The Four Year Conflict Living Hell Presents A Stark Portrait Of The Human Costs Of The Civil War And Gives Readers A Accurate Appreciation Of Its Profound And Lasting Consequences.Adams Examines The Sharp Contrast Between The Expectations Of Recruits Versus The Realities Of Communal Living, The Enormous Problems Of Dirt And Exposure, Poor Diet, Malnutrition, And Disease He Describes The Slaughter Produced By Close Order Combat, The Difficulties Of Cleaning Up The Battlefields Where Tens Of Thousands Of Dead And Wounded Often Lay In An Area Of Only A Few Square Miles And The Resulting Psychological Damage Survivors Experienced.Drawing Extensively On Letters And Memoirs Of Individual Soldiers, Adams Assembles Vivid Accounts Of The Distress Confederate And Union Soldiers Faced Daily Sickness, Exhaustion, Hunger, Devastating Injuries, And Makeshift Hospitals Where Saws Were Often The Medical Instrument Of Choice.Inverting Robert E Lee S Famous Line About War, Adams Suggests That Too Many Americans Become Fond Of War Out Of Ignorance Of Its Terrors Providing A Powerful Counterpoint To Civil War Glorification, Living Hell Echoes William Tecumseh Sherman S Comment That War Is Cruelty And Cannot Be Refined.Praise For Our Masters The Rebels A Speculation On Union Military Failure In The East, 1861 1865 This Excellent And Provocative Work Concludes With A Chapter Suggesting How The Image Of Southern Military Superiority Endured In Spite Of Defeat Civil War History Adams S Imaginative Connections Between Culture And Combat Provide A Forceful Reminder That Civil War Military History Belongs Not In An Encapsulated Realm, With Its Own Categories And Arcane Language, But At The Center Of The Study Of The Intellectual, Social, And Psychological Currents That Prevailed In The Mid Nineteenth Century Journal Of American HistoryPraise For The Best War Ever America And World War II Adams Has A Real Gift For Efficiently Explaining Complex Historical Problems Reviews In American History Not Only Is This Mythologizing Bad History, Says Adams, It Is Dangerous As Well Surrounding The War With An Aura Of Nostalgia Both Fosters The Delusion That War Can Cure Our Social Ills And Makes Us Strong Again, And Weakens Confidence In Our Ability To Act Effectively In Our Own Time Journal Of Military HistoryLiving Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War

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[KINDLE] ❆ Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War ❥ Michael C.C. Adams – E17streets4all.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 292 pages
  • Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War
  • Michael C.C. Adams
  • 04 December 2019
  • 1421412217

10 thoughts on “Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War

  1. says:

    I m using this as my book about war for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, but I primarily read it as research for a short story I m planning to write Living Hell is a wonderful piece of historical writing, with a balance between scholarly and literary tone I wish I could make everyone I ve ever heard espouse the South s gonna rise again ideology read this book, because I don t know how you could be a rational person and still think that or want that while knowing the facts of what militar I m using this as my book about war for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, but I primarily read it as research for a short story I m planning to write Living Hell is a wonderful piece of historical writing, with a balance between scholarly and literary tone I wish I could make everyone I ve ever heard espouse the South s gonna rise again ideology read this book, because I don t know how you could be a rational person and still think that or want that while knowing the facts of what military and civilian life was like during the Civil War I already knew that the historical education I received in school was flawed and biased, but I didn t realize how much my teachers omitted regarding the Civil War, and I didn t realize how quickly after the conflict that the public perception of the war began to change and to become romanticized Arguablysickening than reading about the physical effects of grape shot was reading the trajectory of newly freed black people, of women, and of the poor after the war ended The next to last chapter follows these threads through Jim Crow, Robber Barons, the denial of women s service during the war effort, and , and it s hard to read without feeling cynical.I highly recommend this book, with the caveat that it s one of the most disturbing books that I ve ever read

  2. says:

    Historian Michael C C Adams stated purpose in writing Living Hell is to remove from the American Civil War the romance and mythology of The Lost Cause if you favor the South as well as the Great Crusade to end slavery if you favor the North , and from both sides the view of the war as a grand and glorious affair, one that would elevate and ennoble the participants Adams destroys these illusions with page after page of first hand accounts of the people both combatants and civilians who suf Historian Michael C C Adams stated purpose in writing Living Hell is to remove from the American Civil War the romance and mythology of The Lost Cause if you favor the South as well as the Great Crusade to end slavery if you favor the North , and from both sides the view of the war as a grand and glorious affair, one that would elevate and ennoble the participants Adams destroys these illusions with page after page of first hand accounts of the people both combatants and civilians who suffered so profoundly from the effects of the war From recruitment and training and daily military life with deaths from exposure, malnutrition, and disease , to actual combat with deaths and wounds from massed artillery fire and rifle bullets over a half inch in diameter , to the aftermath of the bloodiest battles ever waged up until that time and the problems of caring for the thousands of wounded and the disposal of thousands of corpses, both human and equine , and on to the aftermath of the war itself and the way it changed American society forever , Adams illustrates just how unprepared and unaware leaders were to wage the first technological war that precipitated death and injuries on a heretofore unprecedented scale One criticism I have is that Adams is proving a point that really needs no further proving He states that his first knowledge of the American Civil War came when he was a boy, from the centennial commemorations that romanticized the war, and his book is an attempt to refute that romantization But the imaginings of a boy forty years ago, are not the same views that educated, thoughtful adults now hold of the Civil War In the final chapter, Adams concludes his discussion by pointing out that the revulsion and disillusionment that was almost universally felt after the war s end had evaporated by the time the U.S became embroiled in the war with Spain thirty years later, and he suggests that the real lessons of the Civil War didn t stick hence his book But the collective amnesia and romantic patina that colors people s attitudes towards the Civil War aren t restricted to just this one war the revising of a society s attitude towards past wars is present in all wars Take as an example the Vietnam War When the U.S finally cut its loses and pulled out of Vietnam, everyone pretty much agreed that the whole war had been a Really Bad Idea But within the next twenty years, the Vietnam War morphed into a Terrible War That Was Nonetheless Necessary, to hold back the creeping spread of Communism and help eventually bankrupt the Soviet Union I get the impression that Adams thinks this revision of our national consciousness is somehow unique to the Civil War, but it really isn t By the way, for anyone interested in reading an interesting theory as to why this revision happens, I recommend Barbara Ehrenreich s Blood Rites Origins and History of the Passions of War

  3. says:

    Extremely interesting well researched telling of the horrors of the Civil War using letters and memoirs of individual soldiers as well as historic documentation The author, feeling Americans have come to think of the war as glorious, sanitized romanticized thanks to films and reenactments, decided to write about the realities of what happened during those hellish years The beginning chapter starts with the young, naive men heading off to fight for their cause then we follow them through th Extremely interesting well researched telling of the horrors of the Civil War using letters and memoirs of individual soldiers as well as historic documentation The author, feeling Americans have come to think of the war as glorious, sanitized romanticized thanks to films and reenactments, decided to write about the realities of what happened during those hellish years The beginning chapter starts with the young, naive men heading off to fight for their cause then we follow them through the years of combat, the clearing of the battlefields, the rampant disease lack of food and water The wounds unable to be properly cared for due to lack of supplies The mental anguish suffered by those unable to cope but tossed aside due to ignorance We are walked through the devastation felt by civilians who had lost everything, the soldiers unable to adjust to normal life turning to a life of stimulants criminal behavior How African Americans were treated no better in the north and left to their own resources Finally, the author reminds us of how short memories can be when decades later the same soldiers who lived through the war longed for those days as if it were times of happiness instead of times of hell If graphic depictions of death and war wounds isn t for you then this book is one you will want to skip Otherwise I highly recommend it to those interested in reading about the dark, ugly side of the Civil War

  4. says:

    The Dark side of the Civil War is exactly what you get with this book Not the battles, unless you want to read about the blood, brains, and guts of the battle, not the moonlight and magnolias of the Old South unless you want the destructions, murders and rapes and not the camp life with men singing the songs unless you want the disease ridden hardships How do you go about the burials of ten thousands of men How did the communities of Gettysburg, Fredericksburg and other cities and towns deal The Dark side of the Civil War is exactly what you get with this book Not the battles, unless you want to read about the blood, brains, and guts of the battle, not the moonlight and magnolias of the Old South unless you want the destructions, murders and rapes and not the camp life with men singing the songs unless you want the disease ridden hardships How do you go about the burials of ten thousands of men How did the communities of Gettysburg, Fredericksburg and other cities and towns deal with the aftermath of a horrific battle How did so many disabled men stand the years after the war begin shunned by friends and family The women, who were left with nothing after the death of their husbands.A different view of the civil war, that few write about, both interesting and horrifying If you are interested in our not so civil war this book is a must

  5. says:

    This is the Civil War history we need, and it s the Civil War history we deserve It s one of the most apt titles I ve ever come across in a book The American Civil War is arguably the most romanticized event in American history, maybe secondly only to the Revolution The narrative is well known Johhny Reb, Billy Yank, the almost god like Robert E Lee as an aside, see Lee Considered foron this and the great struggle for states rights or to free the slaves Epic movies depicting the glo This is the Civil War history we need, and it s the Civil War history we deserve It s one of the most apt titles I ve ever come across in a book The American Civil War is arguably the most romanticized event in American history, maybe secondly only to the Revolution The narrative is well known Johhny Reb, Billy Yank, the almost god like Robert E Lee as an aside, see Lee Considered foron this and the great struggle for states rights or to free the slaves Epic movies depicting the glory and romance of Gettysburg, the 20th Maine s valiant defense at Little Round Top and the futile, reveling the glory of an entire division s destruction at Pickett s Charge The narrative is glory, romance and it s powerful Adams book infuses a much needed dose of reality These histories arefit to the first days of the war with battlefield picnics, brass bands and clean uniforms Adam s book is the bloody, muddy uniform with one pants leg pinned up It s the one vacant chair, the endless array of white tombstones and the bloody, sanity shattering horror of the military hospital.Adams gives us what we need to appreciate the Civil War A portrait painted in blood, gore, feces and madness The Civil War was an epic event and of fundamental importance to the American identity It is right and proper to study it, but it involved real people, real costs, real suffering This book reminds you of that reality reality Our Civil War narrative is much like the Iliad, stark heroes carved in marble who did Great Things with clean hands The deaths are spoken of only as part of the narrative However, Achilles had to go to the privy too Adams makes the Civil War real.Drawing from primary sources the letters, the diaries, medical records It s the closest to a firsthand account that time will allow us.Adams takes on a tour of the battlefields, from the first recruits off to see the elephant in what was sure to be a short war with an easy victory We tour the camps with their teeming masses of men in ill fitting clothes, unwashed and unbathed, living in the field with the thousands of horses and cattle that made up their logistics train The ground, alive with a crawling mat of lice when it isn t tramped into a soup of mud The latrines overflowing with the inevitable result of tens of thousands concentrated in one place The indoctrination required to make men operate as a cohesive unit, to obey commands, and the brutal discipline attendant The foul smell of dysentery, cholera, decay and livestock that permeates everything and the unbearable summer heat.As the war drags on we learn of the foul, corpse tainted taste of water drawn from wells too close from the mass graves of last year s battle Disease, always every present, is rampant Lice, cholera, dysentery, malnutrition rob soldiers of their health, their dignity and their sanity The human cost of the war, the rapid advancements of technology leading men to march into heavy fire in tight, Napoleonic formations is spelled out in terrible, bloody detail Minie balls shatter limbs, rupture intestines, smash skulls Men in line are showered with blood, gore brains and bone Artillery bursts men asunder like blood filled balloons, throwing men and horses dozens of yards away from where they stood and scattering them across the fields These are not isolated events These soldiers endured this for days, weeks, months sometimes, day in and day out Men in trenches, stricken with dysentery or cholera, their bowels so loose as to make any effort at sanitary evacuation futile, living, fighting and dying in pools of their own filth.After the battle the wounded lie screaming in their own blood, dying slowly of thirst or quickly at the hands of looters who have no patience for their screams Soldiers sleep at night hearing the begs and cries of their friends, close but unreachable The inevitable fires roasted the wounded as they lay dying, one of the greatest fears of soldiers on either side.We go on medical rounds in the hospitals In the field hospitals massive pits are dug just for amputated limbs The ground is a hellish mud of blood and dirt The air is thick with the rot of gangrene, either in limbs where the patient has a chance or in the their bowels guaranteeing a slow, painful death Anesthesia is limited to chloroform, whisky and morphine, all in short supply Ambulances are unsprung wagons with the wounded inside begging for death rather than having to endure the shock of another bump in the road Part of the mythology is that people were somehow mentally tougher,resilient than they are now Soldiers then didn t get PTSD Adams writes detailed accounts of the psychiatric cost of the war, men simply stripped of their senses, reliving the moments when their brother or their father was killed next to them, locked in waking nightmares Some slip into catatonia Psychiatry as a medical field did not exist and these men were condemned as physically damaged, one patient with terrors and flashbacks was written off as having insufficient blood to the brain after suffering a lung shot, or as simply lacking in moral character We know differently of course Nobody walks away from having their comrade s brains, scattered by a shell, dumped on their breakfast plate.We learn of the constant problem of deserters, stragglers, men who did not sign up for the living hell the book describes They numbered tens, hundreds of thousands From simply straggling in line, letting others in front soak up the fury of lead and fire that they could no longer take to men who simply left Some returned, some didn t Some were shot, going quietly to their deaths They sat on their own coffins for hours, watching their own grave being dug, waiting to be shot This was easier than getting back in line, easier than going onceunto the breach.After the war we learn of the cost to the wounded Mentally, thousands were shattered Physically they endured torments that are inconceivable to us It s hard to say that people weren t tougher then than they are now when we live in the age of antibiotics, sterile surgery, anesthesia and a dizzying array of medications and technology that spares us much of the pain and suffering that the wounded then dealt with Joshua Chamberlain, of the 20th Maine, lived until 1914 with terrible woulds that would be challenging to treat even today Every day for the rest of his life he had to catheterize with a primitive, rigid catheter just to pass urine Men with bowel wounds, if they survived, leaked and spilled One officer had to run silk thread through an abdominal abscess for the rest of his life to drain it of the accumulated pus This is not comprehensible to most of us, even those in the medical field, but they lived, even prospered, for many years after despite the daily torment of their wounds.This is a hard book It s the Civil War As It Is, or Was It is the closest thing to the actual experience we can get the only thing Adams could dowould be to include a scratch and sniff card It is an absolutely essential companion to any history of the Civil War

  6. says:

    A very well written book Adams is an academic historian, but he writes likes the best popular historians He knows how to grab your attention and keep it After all, history is a story In this case, his story reveals the bloody and sordid reality behind martial glory At the book s end, Adams is puzzled by how so many of those who survived the horrors of the war could support later military actions the Spanish American War or praise their experience as character building But as Robert E Le A very well written book Adams is an academic historian, but he writes likes the best popular historians He knows how to grab your attention and keep it After all, history is a story In this case, his story reveals the bloody and sordid reality behind martial glory At the book s end, Adams is puzzled by how so many of those who survived the horrors of the war could support later military actions the Spanish American War or praise their experience as character building But as Robert E Lee famously said, It is well that war is so terrible or we should grow too fond of it

  7. says:

    This is a very well written book that thoroughly explores the lasting consequences of the American Civil War on the soldiers involved and the civilians of both the North and South It clearly states the devastating effects of war and seeks to dispel any notion of war as a Glorious Adventure Michael Adams succeeds in fully illustrating General Sherman s comment that war is hell.

  8. says:

    Disappointing An interesting premise undermined by painful switches to second person perspective writing, which I detest There are also problems with his history and his analyses are stuck in the era of the Lost Cause myth I knew I was in trouble we he said that there were many causes for the Civil War and referred to slaves as servants Not recommended.

  9. says:

    Odd to think that there could be a dark side I guess darker isaccurate to a war but this book really puts into perspective just what levels of hell the people living in America went through during the Civil War.

  10. says:

    Grim But Informative An intensive look at the dark side of war in general and the Civil War in particular Not for the queasy but it should be required reading for all high school students to demythologize and deromanticize war.

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