For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War Themes

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Combat Motivation

In For Cause and Comrades, James McPherson is searching for an explanation of the motives of Civil War soldiers to fight and remain fighting. He divides these motivations into three types: initial motivations, sustaining motivations and combat motivations. He tells a different but not entirely unique story about each type. Combat motivations come in for scrutiny in part because McPherson believes that his reader will be as shocked as he was when he learned how fiercely Union and Confederate soldiers fought in battle. He attributes this degree of carnage and commitment to several factors.

First, duty and honor played central roles. Soldiers felt that they had a duty to their country, region, army and troop to fight in a noble way, to take up burdens for the group and so on. Many men desired to prove themselves to their fellow soldiers, many of whom were from their...

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This section contains 872 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War Study Guide
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