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What They Fought For
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What They Fought For
1861 – 1865
This book was a good analysis of Civil War soldiers diaries, and letters to their loved ones. Which explains what they were going through in their lives and what they fought for and risked their lives for in this conflict. In the book the author James M. McPherson uses information from l00s of diaries and letters from the soldiers to learn why they fought in this war. The Union soldiers fought to preserve the Nation that was created in 1776, to save it from destruction. The Confederate soldiers fought for their independence, liberty, self government, and for revenge.

James M. McPhersons lectures were given at Louisiana State University called “The Walter L. Fleming Lectures in Southern History.” This book came from these three lectures.

Basically this book is about why and what motivated these soldiers to volunteer and to risk their lives for what they believed was right. Both sides had completely different motives, but were both equally motivated to risk their lives for completely different reasons. These lectures were a small part of a larger book by this author which is about war and what the soldiers were fighting for. This book, “What They Fought For 1861-1865”, explains the reasons why the soldiers fought for both sides.

McPhersons purpose in writing this book was to give an accurate and historical account of the Civil War era. Without historians like him, this pivotal time in American History would be lost to only the memories of those who lived during the time. Memories fade, and oral traditions die, but literature and historical records last forever. The author is trying to show the motivations that drove the men to fight in the war. This book is only a part of a larger one, so in it he is only trying to capture the reasons and the motivation that drove these men to give up their lives and take up arms in order to fight for their beliefs and to a greater cause. McPherson is asking: what emotions drove these men to leave family, friends, state, and take up arms against their “countrymen.”

McPherson read more than 25,000 letters and diaries written by Civil War Soldiers and traveled too many different states to read and consider in detail what these letters meant. He got most of these letters from the U.S. Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The rest of the letters came from the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill and from Duke University. McPhersons wife was his assistant and helped him with his research.

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Author James M. Mcpherson And James M. Mcphersons Lectures. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from