The Motives of Soldiers in the Civil War from For Cause and Comrades by McPherson

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For Cause and Comrades is a book written by James McPherson, with the help of diaries and letters written by soldiers from the Confederate and Union forces, he is able to formally detail accounts on why men fought in the civil war. Consequently, McPherson is able to shed light on the mentality and motives that soldiers possessed that made them fight in the war. Although we will never truly know why soldiers fought in the civil war, this book most definitely gives readers evidence that soldiers had certain values and morals that gave them reason to fight. McPherson’s primary goal in writing this book is to hit three main points: “Initial motivation, sustaining motivation and combat motivation” . Initial motivation “consists of reasons why…show more content…
I believe that McPherson put more emphasis on this chapter more than any other chapter because of the overwhelming prevalence of mentioning religious aspects in these diaries and letters. McPherson goes on to say “Civil War armies were, arguably, the most religious in American History” .
McPherson cites a British Army doctor who specialized in psychiatric casualties during World War II saying “Since History undoubtedly proves that sound religious faith is a strong component in high morale…it is clearly the duty of every officer, whatever his private beliefs, to be seen as a Christian, even if he can only be what I call an’ Army Christian” . This is what really peaked my interest in this chapter. Myself, being on the ROTC path to commission into the U.S. Army as an officer, I take that quote from the British Army doctor to heart, and I can see exactly what he means. Officers are often the ones that most soldiers look up to, especially in times of distress, confusion and fear. So when an officer has sound religious faith, and his soldiers witness it, the morale and faith in the troops increases dramatically. Without Hesitation, it was factually evident, through the letters and diaries of soldiers, that “religious belief helped many soldiers overcome the fear of death” . Some were content with the fact that they
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