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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 8 months ago

During the American Civil War, what boosted the morale of the Union soldiers? Did they care about slavery abolishment, or restoring Union?

I cant imagine that before a charge a general would shouT "FOR OUR BLACK BROTHERS, FREEDOM!". I would imagine southerners would have a higher morale because they probably felt like they were defending themselves, even if defending states right to slavery wasn't very admirable. It still probably felt like they were defending their home.

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'd recommend reading the book "What This Cruel War Was Over" by Chandra Manning.  In it she looks at the writings of ordinary soldiers: letters, diaries, memoirs, published works, to get at the motivations which they felt for the war. 

    Everyone understood the war as being fought because of slavery.  The South had seceded to protect the institution.  And some soldiers, those who came from an anti-slavery background, were motivated to fight by the desire to end slavery and free the slaves.  The majority of Union soldiers, however, were initially motivated solely by preserving the Union.  They weren't out there to end slavery, but to protect the US by defeating the rebel traitors who were looking to tear it apart.  They understood the role that slavery played in secession, but they weren't interested in freeing slaves but rather stopping secession and reuniting the nation.  However, Manning also finds that over time the Unions soldiers became more interested in anti-slavery.  Sometimes it was a desire to punish the South for secession and the war, but it was also motivated by Union armies going into the South and getting a first hand look at slavery and slaves.  Remember that few people in the North would have had direct experience with slavery and most wouldn't have directly known any black people, free or slave.  So the problem of slavery was theoretical and distant to many of them.  When Union armies went into the South it gave previously indifferent or ambivalent soldiers direct experience with slavery.  They saw how it operated, the vast disparity in wealth between the master and the slave, and they also saw the humanity of the slaves, many of whom were escaping to Union lines whenever they could.  This first hand experience caused many of them to become more dedicated to opposing slavery. 

    Lv 5
    8 months ago

    Majority of soldiers did not care about slavery they just wanted to restore the Union and many were conscripts doing it for money, etc.

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    The black soldiers were in the fight for the freedom of their race, and for the freedom of their families who were in slavery.

    The white soldiers? 

     Some were abolitionists.  They may have conducted escapees along the "railroad" to freedom before the war. Pres. Lincoln said the war was to save the United States from breaking apart, but he also said that " I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. [...]

    "It will become all one thing or all the other.

    "Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South."  - Portion of "Lincoln's House Divided Speech" Springfield June 1858 (Wikipedia)

    So, the abolitionists among the soldiers were fighting to at least stop the spread of slavery.  If the Confederate States succeeded in seceding, Texas and at least some of "Indian country" were likely to become "slave" states.  There would likely be another confrontation between the two countries over land grabbing to get potential "free" and "slave" territories.

    (If there were any Native Americans among the enlisted, they might have thought that a good reason to fight. To lose your native land *and* live under laws of slavery must have been a distressing prospect. What guarantees did they have that they would not become slaves?)

    The white soldiers got a bounty of $300 to enlist.  That enticed some Canadians over the border to fight on either side. $300 was good start up money for a farm or a business, whatever your nationality, and the winters must be warmer.

    There were the "excitement" and "courage" factors. Young men wanted to prove themselves. Fighting Rebs was more exciting than plowing fields and milking cows.  And did a man want to be called a coward by his pals in Union Blue?

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    the Murdering of the 50,000 civilians and the Burning down of their Homes when grant went through Georgia the Union army was singing as Georgia Burnt

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  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    Coffee boosted morale big time. Probably decent food for a change as well. The north was racist like the south. The black soldiers were segregated. The motivation was slavery as an evil institution and secession weakening the country. The south committed treason.

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