Published January 2009 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: bought this one after hearing about it on NPR
Gilpin Faust breaks This Republic of Suffering into nine chapters, each exploring a different aspect of what was learned about dying from 1861-1865: Dying, Killing, Burying, Naming, Realizing, Believing and Doubting, Accounting, Numbering, and Surviving. In "Dying" she wrote:
"Sudden death represented a profound threat to fundamental assumption about the correct way to die, and its frequency on the battlefield comprised one of the most important ways that Civil War death departed from the "ordinary death" of the prewar period."Prior to the war, the mostly Christian people of the United States believed in the "good death," a death surrounded by family which giving the dying person time to show their faith in God. Letters to the family of the deceased often mentioned how the dying had accepted God in their final moments or died well. The war also brought up a conflict between duty to God and duty to country that had to be resolved.
Killing on that scale had never been seen before, particularly when the combatants were very much alike. As one soldier said the killing demanded "the harder courage."
"..Civil War killing...required work --intellectual and psychological effort to address religious and emotional constraints, as well as adaptation to the ways this particular war's technologies, tactics, and logistics shaped the experience of combat."The killing was not the only thing that required work on a scale never before seen. Dealing with the dead on the battlefield, traditionally the duty of the victor, often had to be postponed and matter of who was responsible was never entirely clear. Thousands of bodies were buried without identification or in remote places, thousands more were buried in mass burial pits. Industries sprung up: business to help find loved ones (both the missing and the dead), services to bring bodies home, coffin makers and embalmers. Not only did these people show up in droves after a battle but family members of those involved also flocked to the sites, hoping to find their loved ones (barring that, to bring home their bodies).
Eventually the nation had to come to terms with the reality of so many dead and wounded and it weighed heavily and the faith of many. Finally the government began to step up and acknowledge that the dead now belonged to the nation. The long and difficult job of identifying the dead and reburying them in national cemeteries went on for decades after the war ended. And during all of this time, the counting continued. There will never be a definite count on the number of men, women and children killed in the war, in combat, through accidents and illness, and through the deprivations that were a part of the war.
Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, as penned a work that even the most widely-read of Civil War buffs can learn from. It literally took me months to read this one, there was only so much new information I could digest at a time. This Republic of Suffering is one of the best researched book I've ever read, although I sometimes felt that there may have been too much information, too many examples and details. Never the less, I highly recommend it for those with a strong interest in the American Civil War and those who have an interest in how wars impact entire nations.