39 pages 1 hour read

James M. Mcpherson

For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1997

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Chapter 11Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 11 Summary: “Vengeance Will Be Our Motto”

Chapter 11 begins with the notion of the masculine code of honor, an essential part of which, McPherson claims, is revenge for insult and injury. This idea of vengeance, while present in both armies, is stronger in the South, partly because the masculine code has persisted longer there, and partly because the South suffers more death and destruction at the hands of invading Union armies: “Once large-scale invasions and fighting began in earnest, vengeance against ‘these fiends in human shape’ became almost an obsession with some Confederates” (149).

Soldiers from both sides claim the opposing army to be thieving hordes, and that they should be completely eradicated:

A Louisiana cavalry sergeant [...] by the time Vicksburg and Port Hudson had fallen [said that] the ‘only thing’ that kept him going was ‘absolute hatred of […] the hyperborean vandals with whom we are waging a war for existence […] I expect to murder every Yankee I ever meet’ (149).

Confederate armies are especially vindictive against black troops, often murdering them when they try to surrender: “As a North Carolina private explained to his mother after a skirmish with a black regiment: ‘several [were] taken prisoner & afterwards either bayoneted or burnt’” (152).