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Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War…
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Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War

by Michael J. Bennett

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This is a fine examination of the Union sailor of the Civil War in all his recalcitrant glory, as the author tries to get beyond the stereotypes to get a handle on collective motivation. What Bennett finds is a sub-culture that was more mercenary, more determined to stand on traditional rights, and less motivated by political and social imperatives, as compared to the typical Union soldier. The ultimate irony being that seldom was there a group of men more determined to stand on their rights functioning in an environment where there was less leeway to exercise individual rights, up to and including the reality that on a ship there is no escape from action until catastrophe strikes. What's also useful about this book is that the insights of gender studies are exploited in an appropriate fashion. About the only thing that I can mark this study down for is that in having chosen to organize the book on a thematic basis the author occasionally comes off as repetitive. ( )
  Shrike58 | Sep 6, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080782870X, Paperback)

Historians have given a great deal of attention to the lives and experiences of Civil War soldiers, but surprisingly little is known about navy sailors who participated in the conflict. Michael J. Bennett remedies the longstanding neglect of Civil War seamen in this comprehensive assessment of the experience of common Union sailors from 1861 to 1865.

To resurrect the voices of the "Union Jacks," Bennett combed sailors' diaries, letters, and journals. He finds that the sailors differed from their counterparts in the army in many ways. They tended to be a rougher bunch of men than the regular soldiers, drinking and fighting excessively. Those who were not foreign-born, escaped slaves, or unemployed at the time they enlisted often hailed from the urban working class rather than from rural farms and towns. In addition, most sailors enlisted for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons.

Bennett's examination provides a look into the everyday lives of sailors and illuminates where they came from, why they enlisted, and how their origins shaped their service. By showing how these Union sailors lived and fought on the sea, Bennett brings an important new perspective to our understanding of the Civil War.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:53 -0400)

Historians have given a great deal of attention to the lives and experiences of Civil War soldiers, but surprisingly little is known about navy sailors who participated in the conflict. Michael J. Bennett remedies the longstanding neglect of Civil War seamen in this comprehensive assessment of the experience of common Union sailors from 1861 to 1865. To resurrect the voices of the "Union Jacks," Bennett combed sailors' diaries, letters, and journals. He finds that the sailors differed from their counterparts in the army in many ways. They tended to be a rougher bunch of men than the regular soldiers, drinking and fighting excessively. Those who were not foreign-born, escaped slaves, or unemployed at the time they enlisted often hailed from the urban working class rather than from rural farms and towns. In addition, most sailors enlisted for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons. Bennett's examination provides a look into the everyday lives of sailors and illuminates where they came from, why they enlisted, and how their origins shaped their service. By showing how these Union sailors lived and fought on the sea, Bennett brings an important new perspective to our understanding of the Civil War.… (more)

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