.... the first battle does not distinguish the brave from the cowardly.

SWMODave

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charge.jpg

Hatcher's Run
It is somewhat the habit to represent a body of troops, known to be brave and effective, as “eager for the fray," "burning to be led against the foe," or, less elegantly, .. spoiling for a fight."

Writers who indulge in the use of such phrases, know nothing of armies, or do not state what they know, or rather state what they do not know, unless indeed they know it to be false. The soldiers themselves laugh at these expressions when they see them, and none laugh heartier than those a score of times conspicuous for the cheerfulness with which they have gone into battle and their steadiness and pluck under withering fire.

They are not conscious of any particular .. eagerness for the fray," any amorous inclination toward bullets, any penchant for meeting shells half-way, any longing for a short sleep, and a shortened limb under the surgeon's hands, any especial haste to be mustered out in this, and to be mustered in in another world. The man who affects any of this fine frenzy is a coward.

Let it be understood that troops never all rush frantically to the front" for the love of the thing - at least not after they have been in one fight. After that, they are sure to know better. Hence it is that the first battle does not distinguish the brave from the cowardly. It is the second one, with the recollection of the carnage and narrow escapes of the first before him, which tries a soldier and tests his metal and his mettle.

One who was recklessly, unthinkingly brave on his first field, has learned to realize the peril on the second, and may run away; while another who ran the first time, now plucks up courage, having seen that it is quite as safe to go ahead, or having through pride, mastered his fears.

Letters of a War Correspondent



 

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Si Klegg

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This is a plausible theory on behalf of the correspondent; but what about later? When a man has only a month, a week or a day before his discharge? How then is his attitude changed from reckless for a fight to a more careful one.
Yep, it changed - an example:

'The time of the November vets has expired and they should be allowed to go home. It would be too bad after serving three years to be killed after ones term of service had expired.
One of Co.C (J.W. Cheeney) was ordered to go out on picket and as his term had expired ten days ago he told Capt. Henderson that he would not go.
Capt. said "You will either go or I'll send you to the guard house and prefer charges against you."
"All right, Captain," says the man, "I'd sooner take my chances in the guard house than on the picket line."


2nd Lt Chesley A. Mosman Journal, Aug 6 1864, Atlanta
 

SWMODave

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Thank you for sharing. Sorry for the rather off-topic question, but I have to know, where can you find these drawings and sketchings? Are there any websites or is there a specified name for them?
I started collecting images from old books a long time ago. I find the old books on Google Books and do a little copying, cropping and saving. I can share a few sites that might help you find copyright free images.
Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress
This particular image came from The Recollections of a Drummer Boy, but can also be found on Wikimedia.
 


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