Year of Publication

2015

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Department

History

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of History

First Advisor

Dr. James J. Broomall

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Closmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory F. Domber

Department Chair

Dr. Charles Closmann

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick

Abstract

This research examines a sample of North Carolina Confederates as they transitioned from citizen to soldier between 1861 and 1863 during the American Civil War, and it questions how levels of commitment and devotion emerged during this transformation. North Carolina Confederates not only faced physical and emotional challenges as they transitioned from citizen to soldier, but also encountered social obstacles due to the strict social order of the Old South. Orthodoxy maintains this social dissent hindered any form of solidarity among North Carolina Confederates. The question remains, though, why did so many North Carolinians remain committed to the Confederacy until death or surrender? This thesis addresses that question. It acknowledges traditional works on North Carolina’s Civil War experience, however it focuses on the war front more closely. By examining soldiers’ personal reflections to experiences encountered during their transition more understanding concerning soldiers’ shifting perceptions emerge. This thesis encapsulates a soldier’s transition through three stages: camp, combat, and campaign. Each stage offers insight into how perceptions toward fellow men, the home front, combat, and camp-life changed over time. Soldiers were exposed to unprecedented levels of fear, sickness, death, and nostalgia that shook their foundations. Levels of commitment were questioned as men encountered each obstacle. The reflections herein indicate men’s devotion actually increased by 1863 by engaging the basic duties of soldiering and learning to function together in the midst of combat. Self-awareness for health and survival, hard work, and camp life activities took on new meanings by 1863. Furthermore, this sample offers an example of how the constant interactions of men whether in camp or on the battlefield ultimately strengthened solidarity among troops. This thesis pays particular attention to soldiers’ attachments to natural landscapes, and their abilities to materially alter landscapes for the purposes of survival and respite. These North Carolinians reveal how experiences during their transition from citizen to soldier ultimately laid a foundation to remain committed to the war.

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