The soldiers on both sides of the Civil War were united by a common history, and yet the legacy of this past was ambiguous, upholding both rebellion and union. Union and Confederate men went to war as Americans, convinced they fought an un-American, savage enemy. The war they fought was as emotional and catastrophic as any in history, a violent crucible that forged a new national identity. Civil War Soldiersis a fresh and compelling attempt to fathom the war's significance then and now and makes immediate the charged issues and bitter ironies of a nation torn by a conflict over the common ideals of liberty and justice. Drawing on diaries and letters, the focus of this pioneering study is on the men who fought, caught up in a conflict whose causes and consequences seemed as complex and contradictory to the soldiers themselves as they do to us. Reid Mitchell re-creates their experience and discusses the questions one would have most wanted to ask them: Why did you fight? How did you feel about slavery and race? What did you take home from the war? What legacy have you left us? "Fresh insights, startling descriptions, and poignant human detail about the war from the men who fought it." Chicago Tribune"