Cover image for All that makes a man : love and ambition in the Civil War South


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E468.9 .B37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In May 1861, Jefferson Davis issued a general call for volunteers for the Confederate Army. Men responded in such numbers that 200,000 had to be turned away. Few of these men would have attributed their zeal to the cause of states' rights or slavery. As All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambitionin the Civil War South makes clear, most southern men saw the war more simply as a test of their manhood, a chance to defend the honor of their sweethearts, fiances, and wives back home. Drawing upon diaries and personal letters, Stephen Berry seamlessly weaves together the stories of six very different men, detailing the tangled roles that love and ambition played in each man's life. Their writings reveal a male-dominated Southern culture that exalted women as "repositories ofdivine grace" and treasured romantic love as the platform from which men launched their bids for greatness. The exhilarating onset of war seemed to these, and most southern men, a grand opportunity to fulfill their ambition for glory and to prove their love for women--on the same field of battle. Asthe realities of the war became apparent, however, the letters and diaries turned from idealized themes of honor and country to solemn reflections on love and home. Elegant and poetic, All That Makes a Man recovers the emotional lives of unsung Southern men and women and reveals that the fiction of Cold Mountain mirrors a poignant reality. In their search for a cause worthy of their lives, many Southern soldiers were disappointed in their hopes for aSouthern nation. But they still had their women's love, and there they would rebuild.

Author Notes

Stephen W. Berry II is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

An expanded doctoral dissertation, this study of the motives of Southern men before and during the Civil War has a trade book's title and subtitle, but in style and substance it is really an academic monograph. Berry-assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke-argues that the pursuit of distinction ("eclat") in the eyes of a virtuous woman was a compelling motive for men to go off to war. He offers six case studies, including fire-eating secessionist Laurence Keit's pursuit of commitment-phobic Susanna Sparks, and the paradoxically named David Outlaw, a lawyer who gave up a political career in revulsion at what he saw as the sexual immorality rampant in Washington, D.C. In wealthy young Henry Dixon, a planter-class playboy, burgeoning adolescent sexuality fought (and eventually won) over his desire to worship women and led him to a case of syphilis. Nathaniel Dawson married a formidable and demanding half-sister of Mary Lincoln, who won his undying love through peace and war. Theodore Montfort was a middle-aged paterfamilias who sought distinction by enlisting, and lawyer Henry Croft went through life worshipping the memory of his fiancee, who died two weeks before the wedding. The author frames his character sketches in informative and sometimes provocative essays on sex and gender roles, and adds a melancholy note by recording that Montfort and Keit died in the war and Dixon died of syphilis. This book looks in two directions, toward gender studies and toward the Civil War, and determined readers interested in either can extract considerable value from it. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
I Men and Ambition
1 All That Makes a Manp. 17
2 Two Separate Yet Most Intimate Thingsp. 45
Laurence Massillon Keitt: Politics as Epic Poemp. 47
Henry Craft: The Memory of Lovep. 64
II Men and Women
3 Across a Great Dividep. 83
4 Purity and Desirep. 114
David Outlaw: This Hollow Hearted Sodomp. 118
Harry St. John Dixon: An Apple Before a Childp. 136
III Men and War
5 A Fountain of Watersp. 163
6 Looking Homewardp. 193
Nathaniel Dawson: The Unstudied Language of the Heartp. 196
Theodorick Montfort: Something to Love and Pettp. 218
Epiloguep. 227
Notesp. 239
Bibliographyp. 269
Indexp. 283