Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell: Sex in the Civil War


First book to cover all aspects of sexuality during the Civil War. Based on area original sources, including the soldiers' jokes, songs, letters, and diaries.
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1994 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 240 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Book is great shape....right off the bookstore ... shelf. Covered in plastic with DJ. Read more Show Less

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Story Soldier's Wouldn't Tell, The: Sex in the Civil War

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First book to cover all aspects of sexuality during the Civil War. Based on area original sources, including the soldiers' jokes, songs, letters, and diaries.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Using primary documents as well as standard historical works (e.g., Douglas Southall Freeman's biographies of Civil War leaders), Lowry, a physician and medical historian, weaves a fascinating history of a little-discussed aspect (sex) of a much-discussed subject (the Civil War). Beginning with the icons of the war, Lowry notes that the reputation of such saintlike figures as Lincoln, Lee, and Stonewall Jackson is well deserved. However, the rank and file present quite another story, and Lowry tells it in an easy, armchair-style prose that is well documented with letters, diaries, court records, and other primary evidence. From camp followers to gay lovers to vulgar language, Lowry examines Civil War-era sex from every conceivable angle. Recommended for public libraries and as ancillary reading in academic libraries where Civil War materials are collected.-William Emory Buchanan, Clarion Univ., Pa.
Roland Green
Revisionist sexual history is commonly overloaded with jargon and psychobabble, and it often erects a ponderous structure of didactic theory on a slender foundation of data. Lowry commits neither of these faults and, in addition, exhibits great erudition and even wit. Drawing on a wide variety of primary sources--from letters that escaped the censoriousness of their writers' descendants to court-martial reports, prostitutes' diaries, and the modest remaining examples of very immodest Victorian erotica--Lowry argues that, in spite of Victorian mores, a thoroughly normal amount of sexual activity went on under the covers and in other places during the war. Rape may have been rare, but sexual activity was as universal as ever. Readers of this book will have fun, too.
Lowry (UC, San Francisco) offers an occasionally ribald but scholarly study of the sex lives of soldiers in the Civil War, using rare original documents such as letters and journals and reinterpreting official sources. He covers the pornographic book and card trade, women who served in the army as men, prostitutes and the origin of the term "hooker," legalized prostitution in Nashville and Memphis, venereal disease, rape, and homosexuality. Includes b&w photos, some of victims of the late stages of venereal diseases in the era before antibiotics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811715157
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/1994
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas P. Lowry, M.D. retired from medicine--he was a was a physician and psychiatrist for forty years--to write historical human interest stories like this one.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Our Founding Fathers 11

Chapter 2 The Birds and the Bees 16

Chapter 3 I Take Pen in Hand … 27

Chapter 4 Blue with Oaths 40

Chapter 5 And the Flesh Was Made Word 48

Chapter 6 Prostitution: East 61

Chapter 7 Prostitution: West 76

Chapter 8 Bred upon the Waters 88

Chapter 9 French Letters and American Morals 93

Chapter 10 The Ailments of Venus 99

Chapter 11 Parallel Lives 109

Chapter 12 Against Her Will 123

Chapter 13 An Officer and a Gentleman 132

Chapter 14 Generals Nuisance 143

Chapter 15 Clerical Error 159

Chapter 16 Love 168

Chapter 17 Aftermath 172

Notes 177

Bibliography 195

Index 203

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    legalized prostitution in the usa worked

    I am an amateur student of sex an am always looking for good informative books. This was one of the best I have read. It was clear, interesting to read and not insulting to those of us who understand the need for such a profession. It read some where between novel and history book and was a real page turner. I most enjoyed the letters where the solders noted that everyone in the army visited the gals but him, of course his tent mate wrote the same letter also. I have used the section on legalized prostitution in Nashville and Memphis as conversation fodder at several parties to get a great conversation going. This book is a must read for any civil war buff or sex buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    Funny & Entertaining

    Right from the get go this book grabs your attention. Lowry is an amazing writer that combines facts, statistics, and humor to keep you flipping the pages. At times you'll bust a side laughing at some of the little jokes tossed in throughout the book. It really makes you stop and think though... has there ever been a time in American society when people actually had morals & values??

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2002

    an interesting survey

    Thomas Lowry does an incredible job providing a window into the sexual and emotional minds of our very human ancestors, with the use of primary sources and statistics. The book was a relatively easy read and provides speculatve information, allowing the reader to draw many of his/her own conclusions. I was hoping for more on what was considered physically and sexually attractive during that time in history (since the concept of beauty seems to be constantly changing), but the information within the book surrounding prostitution, disease, and social propriety were equally as interesting.

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