Brothers One and All: Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
Mark H. Dunkelman
During the Civil War, the regiment was the fundamental component of armies both North and South, its reliability and effectiveness crucial to military success. Soldiers' devotion to their regiment -- their esprit de corps -- encouraged unit cohesion and motivated the individual soldier to march into battle and endure the hardships of military life. In Brothers One and All, Mark H. Dunkelman identifies the characteristics of Civil War esprit de corps and charts its development from recruitment and combat to the end of the war and beyond through the experiences of a single regiment, the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. Dunkelman offers a unique psychological portrait of a front-line unit that fought with distinction at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Valley, Rocky Face Ridge, and other engagements. He traces the evolution of natural camaraderie among friends and neighbors into a more profound sense of pride, enthusiasm, and loyalty forged as much in the shared unpleasantness of day-to-day army life as in the terrifying ordeal of battle.
June 17, 1863, when the 154th reached Goose Creek, near Leesburg, Virginia. Resting for a few days, the men wrote letters describing the tramp. “We left [Centerville, Virginia] yesterday morning and reached our present camp before night, doing the best marching we have ever done yet,” Dwight Moore wrote. “We marched sixteen miles in four hours and twenty minutes, which I call pretty good traveling, considering we carry forty or ﬁfty lbs.” James Emmons informed his sister, “We have done a good.
Campaigning to be tedious. “A soldiers life is about the same thing over and over,” George Newcomb wrote when the 154th made several movements up and down the banks of the Rappahannock River preliminary to the Mud March in January 1863. “It is march and countermarch.” Dwight Moore summarized the often overwhelming boredom in a letter to his brother: Well I dont care how soon they wind this war up, for I am getting tired of a soldiers life and I am not the only one either that is. I am getting.
Health in Lookout Valley during the spring of 1864. Company F rallied around him again. “He is on the gain now and I think he is out of danger,” Homer Ames notiﬁed Griswold’s son. “He has had a hard sickness but he has had as good care as could be given a man here in this country [Private Marvin M.] Marve Skinner has taken care of him day times and then the boys have taken turns seting up with him nights.”47 Surgeon Henry Van Aernam’s jurisdiction expanded when he was ap- 118.
Line and the regiment’s position was hopeless. As the highest ranking Eleventh Corps ofﬁcer left on the ﬁeld, he gave the order to retreat. The 154th now had an open ﬁeld of about eight hundred feet to cross to reach the shelter of the woods. Under a murderous ﬁre, many of the men fell making the attempt. When the survivors plunged into the gloomy forest, some ran helter-skelter into Confederate hands, while others 123 .......................... 10744$ $CH6 05-13-04 15:00:43 PS PAGE 123 b.
Appearance. And gambling was not restricted to card games. “All quiet in the military line but a great day for sporting running horses,” Joshua Pettit noted in April 1865 at Goldsboro, North Carolina. “One bet of two hundred on a ride and several other races.”30 Widespread use of profane language disturbed proper men. “One thing sure,” Barzilla Merrill promised Ruba, “I have no disposition to join in the 183 .......................... 10744$ $CH8 05-13-04 15:01:03 PS PAGE 183 b r o t h e.