Are individual soldiers' motivations important?

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O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
That's all well and good but either the brown water Navy had to curtail operations due to dissension in the ranks or it did not. If sailors are angry it only matters if they refused to do their assigned tasks or they deserted or defected to the Confederacy.
Leftyhunter
Or commenced to throwin' overboard approx. 25% it their various crews...at the time. :rolleyes:
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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inspired by


Discuss.
I suppose it does not matter what the fighters thought. What was important was that the war happened.
Once the aggressive elements were able to appeal to "patriotism" and define what to fight against, it would not matter what the ones who were going to do the fighting might think.
Having succeeded in getting people polarized to the point of killing each other, it was easy for everybody to think what they would of "the other side". One may justify almost anything by simply pointing to "them" and defining their evil.
 
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jgoodguy

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I suppose it does not matter what the fighters thought. What was important was that the war happened.
Once the aggressive elements were able to appeal to "patriotism" and define what to fight against, it would not matter what the ones who were going to do the fighting might think.
Having succeeded in getting people polarized to the point of killing each other, it was easy for everybody to think what they would of "the other side". One may justify almost anything by simply pointing to "them" and defining their evil.
It is interesting enough to have books written about and threads started.

The problem comes in not viewing things from a mid-19th-century viewpoint or an agnostic historical viewpoint. For the CSA army, an individual fighting for a slave republic is not different from fighting for King and Country or the Emperor. Fighting for adventure is as old as armies. Fighting for money is unremarkable. Fighting because of intimidation or to impress a woman also common.

Fighting for Union is also difficult to understand because threats to Union died with the Confederacy, but in 1860 there was a credible threat. A credible threat to end the great American experiment in democracy. For many Union soldiers, Union was the primary motivation, fighting against slavery comes later and slavery comes to represent an existential threat to the Union along with personal moral disgust with slavery as more and more Union soldiers came into contact with it.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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but in 1860 there was a credible threat. A credible threat to end the great American experiment in democracy. For many Union soldiers, Union was the primary motivation, .
i'd say that the credible threat came from the pleaders who came up with the notion that democracy was in the balance, Aggressors of all stripes tried to pull that one over the eyes of potential soldiers. That notion got tens of thousands killed.
Of course that snake oil gets books written about it. A lot of Americans love another reason to lift a hand and point a finger at "them".
 

jgoodguy

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i'd say that the credible threat came from the pleaders who came up with the notion that democracy was in the balance, Aggressors of all stripes tried to pull that one over the eyes of potential soldiers. That notion got tens of thousands killed.
Of course that snake oil gets books written about it. A lot of Americans love another reason to lift a hand and point a finger at "them".
Could be, but not the topic of this thread.
 
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Robtweb1

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I have a number of letters written by my g-grandfather during the war. He never discussed politics or his motivation, but he did comment on conditions and notable events for which he was present for such as Jefferson Davis visiting Demopolis, Al. and a Grand Review. There is this in his service record, however. Part of it is illegible but you get the drift:

“Hd.In Ms. 9th Tex. Infy.

July 29,1863

Col H. S. End...

Chief of Staff

Sir:

I respectfully have the honor to apply for a leave of absence for thirty days. My reasons to make ... an application at such a time are based on the condition ...family ... requires immediate relief. For the last two years I have been with the army and my family has been within the enemy’s lines. All communications between me and my family have been cutoff. I am a foreigner and do not have relatives to whom my family can call for relief while in my absence. Neither can my family be provided from a ruthless enemy. Men devoid of all gentlemanly principles, where bravery is based on the abuse of women and children. At present, Sir, my family apply to ... for the relief which in our ... can grant and if two years of devotion, fatigue, and privation are sufficient grounds to your kind consideration I respectfully wish it.

Respectfully

Yr obedient servt

R. T. De Aragon

Surg. 9th Tex Infy

PS I have an able and accomplished Asst Surg to have in my place during my absence.

R. T. De Aragon”
 

jgoodguy

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Neither can my family be provided from a ruthless enemy. Men devoid of all gentlemanly principles, where bravery is based on the abuse of women and children.
Interesting.
Sounds like something from an aristocratic honor-based society. Was it his feelings or designed to motivate a superior. Motivated by CSA propaganda? camp rumors? What was this 'gentlemanly principles' in the Confederacy?

Also of interest is his separation from his family, a common problem in the CSA army and a problem for morale. "or the last two years I have been with the army and my family has been within the enemy’s lines. All communications between me and my family have been cutoff. I am a foreigner and do not have relatives to whom my family can call for relief while in my absence. " Was this absolutely true because if he admits to having other family, there is no way he will get his leave.

It is hard to discern motivations for simple things from far away in time and situation.
 

major bill

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Why induvial soldiers joins the military or why they are drafted are not important to the reason a war is fought. The reasons individual soldiers join or are drafted are important to the soldiers and their families, but their reasons just do not indicate way the war was fought.
 
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Robtweb1

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Interesting.
Sounds like something from an aristocratic honor-based society. Was it his feelings or designed to motivate a superior. Motivated by CSA propaganda? camp rumors? What was this 'gentlemanly principles' in the Confederacy?

Also of interest is his separation from his family, a common problem in the CSA army and a problem for morale. "or the last two years I have been with the army and my family has been within the enemy’s lines. All communications between me and my family have been cutoff. I am a foreigner and do not have relatives to whom my family can call for relief while in my absence. " Was this absolutely true because if he admits to having other family, there is no way he will get his leave.

It is hard to discern motivations for simple things from far away in time and situation.
He was an immigrant from Cuba. His wife and daughter were in Moscow, TN, which was occupied by the yankees in 1862. He did get them out, I don't know how, as the rest of his letters during the war are addressed to his wife in Summerfield, AL, now a suburb of Selma. All of his letters are worded very formally and I don't see any evidence he was trying to "impress" someone.
 

jgoodguy

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He was an immigrant from Cuba. His wife and daughter were in Moscow, TN, which was occupied by the yankees in 1862. He did get them out, I don't know how, as the rest of his letters during the war are addressed to his wife in Summerfield, AL, now a suburb of Selma. All of his letters are worded very formally and I don't see any evidence he was trying to "impress" someone.
The additional details are important.
 

jgoodguy

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He was an immigrant from Cuba. His wife and daughter were in Moscow, TN, which was occupied by the yankees in 1862. He did get them out, I don't know how, as the rest of his letters during the war are addressed to his wife in Summerfield, AL, now a suburb of Selma. All of his letters are worded very formally and I don't see any evidence he was trying to "impress" someone.
I think that it is a good example of trying to analyze a letter without context, by itself and a cautionary tale in that respect.
 
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leftyhunter

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Why induvial soldiers joins the military or why they are drafted are not important to the reason a war is fought. The reasons individual soldiers join or are drafted are important to the soldiers and their families, but their reasons just do not indicate way the war was fought.
As discussed before if soldiers aren't motivated to fight for an ideal they are at considerable risk for desertion, defection or killing their officers plus not obeying order's.
Definitely both the Union and Confederate Armies had serious issues with above. The ACW was not the last conflict American troops were not motivated to fight either.
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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As discussed before if soldiers aren't motivated to fight for an ideal they are at considerable risk for desertion, defection or killing their officers plus not obeying order's.
Definitely both the Union and Confederate Armies had serious issues with above. The ACW was not the last conflict American troops were not motivated to fight either.
Leftyhunter
A complication is that once someone has invested in a cause, they will continue to invest in that cause. A man whose friends have died for a cause, who has sacrificed for a cause will continue to support that cause. It is not a certainty but a tendency.
 
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