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Compassion for the enemy?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by CSA Today, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter First Sergeant

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    I suppose one could make the argument that in a sense desertion was a form of compassion. How many soldiers on both sides deserted because they no longer wished to maim or kill their fellow man? Was desertion one of perhaps many reasons why soldiers deserted in large numbers on both sides? I don't know how to objectively measure such numbers I will speculate it may not be a small number.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  3. Bowen

    Bowen Private

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    A Union flag bearer (a young boy) was the only one left standing in front of his company at Cold Harbor. The Confederates of the 15th Alabama waved at him to go back and therefore saved his life.
     
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  4. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Captain Forum Host

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    Ah- thanks Johann, knew I'd heard it somewhere. I'll bet the commands on both sides hated that, wonder how much use either regiment was for the rest of the war regardless. I was trying to remember- I may have first heard of that incident as long ago as high school, you wonder what the soldiers involved would have thought if someone had told them kids would be taught about their Christmas all those years in the future.

    Has anyone ever written a book based on the 15th Alabama? Gee whiz, hate to single out one regiment, it's just that there are an awful lot of stories attached to them. I'm guessing by Cold Harbor,and the end of that horrible battle, those men had seen enough of death, decided not to be the cause of one more. That's a great story.
     
  5. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    I think by that point they were hardened veterans who understood courage and respected it.
     
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  6. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Captain Forum Host

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    It blows to heck one theory I read somewhere, wish I could remember where, on how the whole thing was a gentleman's war at first, men respecting some unwritten code. This theory conjectured that as the war went on, sheer body count and experience got the gloves off, all that went out the window. It sounds like perhaps some of that might be true, but experience also meant more respect- that understanding courage thing. No, of course not 100% percent of the time- someone is going to point out the soldier who shook his fist at Gettysburg, got killed for his hutzpah.

    I've read an awful lot of accounts, in different books and newspapers, Union and Confederate soldiers aiding each other- water, carrying letters, whatever. Some of them must be true.
     
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