The American Civil War

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The American Civil War emanated feelings of joy, exuberance, and glory, yet it substantiated loneliness, destruction, and death. In the antebellum South, nationalism and pride forged a new path, and society saw soldiers as heroic actors and war as their stage. While these actors played out their roles, the audience, the world, could see that their stage did not make them heroes, but war deprived them of body and soul. In Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier develops this excitement and progression to hardship in both Ada and Inman’s journeys. The progression, corroborated by historical evidence, shows that while the antebellum South held a Romantic ideal of war, war itself negated the romantic opinion and became destructive, monstrous, and deadly. At the onset of civil war, a state of trepidation would be assumed; however, Cold Mountain shows that Southern society did not fear war but eagerly anticipated it. Inman and Ada show that people did not dread war, but instead school teachers spoke of the “grand wars fought in Ancient England” (5), and “ each night, there was music and dancing” (140). People did not live in fear, but instead, a “strange time of war fever” (140) and excitement was created. “Young men considered dull and charmless suddenly acquired an aura of glamour shimmering about them” (140), not because they were instantly revitalized by Athena, but because they were adding themselves to the glory and honor of the ideal Romantic war. Society in Cold Mountain did not fear death, but they spoke of the glory of war, and had parties celebrating the coming war. Mrs. McKennett, a woman Ada converses with, “[holds] opinions exactly in accord with every newspaper” (180), that the fighting is “glorious, tragic, and he... ... middle of paper ... ...inary Times of the Civil War Soldier. Ed. David Madden. New York: Simon & Schuster,2000. Billings, John D. Soldier Life in the Union and Confederate Armies. Ed. Philip Van Doren Stern. New York: Bonanza Books, 1961. Eaton, Clement. A History of the Southern Confederacy. New York: The Free Press, 1965. Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997. Martin, Bessie. A Rich Man’s War, A Poor Man’s Fight. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003. Ratchford, James Wylie. Memoirs of a Confederate Staff Officer: From Bethel to Bentonville. Eds. James E. Hansen II & Evelyn Sieburg. Shippensburg: Beidel Printing House, Inc. 1998. Thomas, Emory M. The Confederate Nation: 1861-1865. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Vinovskis, Maris, ed. Toward a Social History of the American Civil War. 1st. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.

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