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 9Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 9 Summary: “Slavery Must Be Cleaned Out”

Chapter 9 shows the slow movement of progress in the North on the subject of slavery. At the onset of the war, most Northern soldiers fight for the restoration of the Union. Their cries of liberty are for the liberty of the Union, not for the freedom of slaves: “Few Union soldiers professed to fight for racial equality. For that matter, not many claimed even to fight primarily for the abolition of slavery” (117). McPherson’s numbers say that only one in ten, in the letters he read, speak of emancipation for the slaves. About one in three Northern soldiers saw the abolition of slavery as the only way to preserve the Union, but the rest either keep their opinions to themselves, or do not care much about freeing slaves.

For those who are anti-slavery, their experiences in the South reinforce this belief: “Several soldiers wrote home after a few months in the South that slavery was a ‘blight’ that ‘withered all it touched’” (118). Their observations of slaves being whipped, and the belief that “in the South the people are a century behind the free states” (118) also converts many Northern soldiers to the idea of emancipation, and as the North invades the South, Northern soldiers become agents of this change by their very presence, McPherson says.