Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America

Overview

Marten explores how, after the Civil War, the white Confederate and Union army veterans reentered—or struggled to reenter—the lives and communities they had left behind. Marten's book counters the romanticized vision of the lives of Civil War veterans, bringing forth new information about how veterans were treated and how they lived out their lives.

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Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America

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Overview

Marten explores how, after the Civil War, the white Confederate and Union army veterans reentered—or struggled to reenter—the lives and communities they had left behind. Marten's book counters the romanticized vision of the lives of Civil War veterans, bringing forth new information about how veterans were treated and how they lived out their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] insightful work. . . . Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice

"Deeply researched and vividly narrated, Marten's book counters the romanticized vision of the lives of Civil War veterans, bringing forth new information about how white veterans were treated and how they lived out their lives."—McCormick Messenger

"A rich narrative. . . . Marten's well-researched study draws together a deep analysis of competing themes."—West Virginia History

"A splendid synthesis in the emerging field of postwar studies."—Journal of Social History

"A strong contribution in exploring the mental impact of the war on veterans."—Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"A first rate study. . . . Well-written with well-placed illustrations and photographs, this will become a definitive work on the subject."—American Nineteenth Century History

"Sing Not War is a first-rate scholarly model of historical research and elegant writing that is sure to reshape studies of veteran culture, social welfare, Civil War memory, and the Gilded Age."—Journal of the Civil War Era

"Marten's own engaging and pithy prose makes this work highly readable. . . . [This book] should appeal to a wide readership."—Alabama Review

"This volume is profoundly moving."—The Historian

"Engaging, well written, and exhaustive. . . . A timely and relevant account of the consequences of war on soldiers and civilians alike."—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"A worthy addition to the growing body of scholarship on Civil War veterans. For readers new to the topic, it represents a well-written introduction to the world of the men that served in and survived the Civil War. For scholars knowledgeable on this topic, Marten's study pulls together many familiar threads and adds some new ones, thoughtfully weaving both."—Civil War Book Review

"Elegantly written . . . . Sing Not War has given admirable shape and definition to an anemic subfield of Civil War history."—Civil War Monitor

"A remarkable book with significance far beyond the post-Civil War era."—Kansas History

"[Marten's] scholarship is wide ranging, and his prose is excellent . . . . For anyone interested in the postwar lives of Civil War soldiers, Sing Not War is highly recommended."—The Annals of Iowa

"Adds much to a growing literature on the Civil War soldier as veteran."—Journal of Illinois History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807834763
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2011
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

James Marten is professor of history at Marquette University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Toil On, Heroes 1

1 Melt Away Ye Armies: Endings and Beginnings 33

2 Maimed Darlings: Living with Disability 75

3 Saner Wars: Veterans. Veteranhood, and Commerce 125

4 Regiments So Piteous: Soldiers' Homes, Communities, and Manhood 159

5 Another Gathering Army: Pensions and Preference 199

6 Sad, Unnatural Shows of War: Veterans' Identity and Distinctiveness 245

Notes 287

Bibliography 307

Index 333

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A look at the CW Vets

    American mythology states that veterans of "good wars" reenter society with almost no problems. These veterans ennobled by their service and loved by a grateful nation live out their lives as a national treasure. The American Civil War is one of America's "good wars" and the veterans enjoyed the benefits of such.
    History is full of soldiers but silent on veterans. Very very few books look at their experiences after the war, how active service affected them and societies reaction to them. This book looks at veterans of the Civil War, how they readjusted, how society saw them and how they saw themselves. The majority of the book is devoted to Union Veterans. They are the ones that have "saved" their country and a government that is the beneficiary of their service. This government has the ability to compensate and care for them.
    For about 70 years, the care and compensation of Union veterans is the major item in the Federal budget. Becoming a major expense creates political and social problems. Much of the book is devoted to these problems and their impact on society. In effect, Union veterans became the beneficiary of America's first old age pension system. Society's gratitude for "saving the country" became uncertain as expenses increase. This is not new history but the author presents multiple views resulting in a fresh approach.
    During Reconstruction, disable Confederate veterans depend on local charity to survive. As the South rebuilds, the states provide small pensions and homes for their needy veterans. While never as generous as the Union system, these were welcome supplements. The Southern veteran occupies a unique position as the embodiment of "The Lost Cause", a living monument. This feeling coupled with the lack of a pension system excused many of their problems. The book is very successful in showing the contrast between public perceptions of veterans in the years following the war.
    The author is careful to state that the majority of veterans readjust with minimal problems and lead productive lives. This is as true today as it was 145 years ago. However, most men have some problems and a few have serious ones. The men with serious problems are most likely to be noticed and recorded. The Civil War is no exception and the book looks at multiple serious problems during the Gilded Age. Hard statistics do not exist but derogatory references abound. Good scholarship allows us to draw a realistic picture of maimed men grinding street organs or begging in doorways. Drunks in old blue coats or addicts are common enough to become stock characters.
    Old age creates a new set of disabilities and swindlers with the expansion of the pension system. The two periods when "agents" abound are right after the war and when the majority enter old age. Things have changed less than we like to think. Money tends to bring out the worst in people. This is as true then as now.
    This is an excellent book, well written and very readable. What could be a dry subject takes on a life of its' own. The author keeps the story moving, marshals his facts and never becomes judgmental.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 2, 2012

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