Confederates as Citizens in the Post–Civil War South
The Civil War altered veterans’ mental and emotional landscapes and destabilized white southern manliness as it was socially constructed and understood. The surrender of Confederate armies did not mark an end to men’s martial lives nor bring closure to their wartime experiences. The aggressive manliness of a warrior and the emotional upheaval brought by war clashed with a more controlled civilian masculinity. The internal contest manifested itself in personal and social turmoil. The majority of men, pressed by the necessity of want and exhausted by prolonged military service, peacefully returned home, started working, and parsed out their emotions quietly. Other battle-hardened veterans, undeterred by defeat, desperately sought to continue fighting or fled the country entirely. For both groups, the shock of battle lingered well past military conflict and became an essential part of how veterans comprehended the postwar South. Only after a period of intense disorder could white Southerners begin to reconstitute themselves as a people and look toward reconstruction.
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