This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin FaustAn illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of todays population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields-from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.
During the Civil War, my great-great-grandfather, a Presbyterian clergyman, served as chaplain to the th New York Infantry Regiment. He was a man of stern moral conviction and in weekly letters to his parishioners back home allowed little to escape his censorious eye. Little wonder. Some 7, corpses lay scattered across the Pennsylvania countryside, alongside more than 3, dead horses and mules — an estimated six million pounds of human and animal flesh, swollen and blackening in the July heat. For weeks afterward, townspeople carried bottles of peppermint oil to neutralize the smell.
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Genre: History. Toggle navigation. Annotated by: Mathiasen, Helle. This Republic of Suffering. Death and the American Civil War. Date of entry: Mar Last revised: Mar Summary Testifying to its author's "fascination with death" , this scholarly and abundantly illustrated work focuses on the history of the American idea of the Good Death as this concept took shape during the Civil War.
Look Inside. Jan 06, ISBN Jan 08, ISBN More than , soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. In This Republic of Suffering , Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God.
Driving our cars, however, is unlike Confederate and Union soldiers gathered at Antietam on September 17, ; hours later the combined tally was 22, dead, wounded, or missing. For both sides the work was the work of death. Battle was slaughter, suffering and devastation, and for those tens of thousands involved theirs was to anticipate their own mortality. Also, for the first time, civilians found themselves transfixed by the new art of photography. Thus this new prominence of bodies depicting the immense destruction raised the question of what to do with the remains while considering the persons who once inhabited those remains. She asks us to imagine soldiers about to enter into battle preparing themselves for death, dramatically, laying down their life.