Mental Effects of War on Civil War Soldiers

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Social Studies
American History

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Mental Effects of War on Civil War Soldiers

Unfortunately, people in the 1800's didn't make the connection between the many suicides and the horrors of war. They didn't know about things like PTSD.

Suicide was traditionally frowned upon. However, when soldiers took their own lives, they were treated very respectfully. One man was called a "martyr" for his cause after his suicide.

When soldiers came home, they were different people. They exhibited symptoms that today are associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They had flashbacks, insomnia, panic attacks, & thought of suicide, to name a few.

War was horrifying. Soldiers were often anxious about battle, but if they voiced their fears, they were called cowards. One man did this, & responded to his comrades' accusations of cowardice by stabbing himself in the neck.

Many soldiers suffered from the war from beginning until long after it was over. Some were sent to insane asylums. Some took their own lives. All were forever affected.

Mental Effects of War on Civil War Soldiers

"A third of them were dead or dying, but enough were alive to give the field a singularly crawling effect."- Union colonel at Malvern Hill, Virginia

"Don't you hear them bombarding?" - Survivor of artillery barrage to his wife

"... delirious from liquor." - Reason for attempted suicide in June 1862 given by onlookers

"Your husband died this afternoon. Shall we bury here? Answer?" - Telegram from 1900 found in asylum patient's file




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