A look at the shocks and horrors of the civil war

Buildup[ edit ] Before the invasion of IraqUnited States armed forces officials described their plan as employing shock and awe. According to a CBS News report, "One senior official called it a bunch of bull, but confirmed it is the concept on which the war plan is based.

A look at the shocks and horrors of the civil war

He was, by all accounts, a quiet and easygoing man, well-liked and quick to share a laugh and a drink with his comrades. Until the Battle of Stones River, that is. Owen sank further into despair the next year and a half, until a ground-shaking artillery barrage at Resaca, Ga. He wandered off at all hours, ate and slept alone, and was quick to anger.

Once, while on picket duty, he ran into camp shouting that the enemy was coming, when no hostile force was anywhere near. He lost a job at the local blast furnace apparently because he could not concentrate.

His anger and irritability drove his son permanently from home, and his violent tendencies brought the police to his door on a number of occasions. Unemployable, un-predictable, and highly volatile, Flaherty took to wandering the streets. While it is common for people to experience a psychological response to a traumatic incident—an auto accident, a robbery at gunpoint—those affected by PTSD suffer its effects long after the event, or events, that caused it.

While the technology of warfare has changed over the millennia, the psychological effects of bloody confrontation have been ever-present, and sufficient documentation exists to conclude that Civil War soldiers suffered from PTSD.

This evidence includes medical reports, newspaper and family accounts, and the letters and diaries of the soldiers themselves. It was the last American conflict to be fought in a traditional manner, but in the face of devastating modern technology.

It was a war for which most American soldiers were mentally and emotionally unprepared. This was the Victorian age, a time when standards of manly conduct were set inordinately and unrealistically high. For many, their only exposure to war had come from listening to the sanitized reminiscences of their fathers or grandfathers, or reading such tales of chivalry as Ivanhoe and Idylls of the King.

Perhaps the most common circumstance in which a soldier could suffer PTSD was participation in combat. It was not uncommon for naive recruits to look forward with enthusiasm to their first battle.

Malvern Hill: A Victory With The Look And Feel Of Defeat | Emerging Civil War

Few could have imagined the shock of just being within earshot of a fight: At every step they take…their feet are slipping in the blood and brains of their comrades. A Union colonel surveying the field after Malvern Hill wrote: The wounds themselves were terrible.

Whereas a standard musket ball might break a bone in its course, the Minie ball tended to shatter bones and pulverize flesh, to the extent that an affected limb normally had to be amputated.

Even in cases where the arm or leg might be saved, the surgeons were so overworked—and in some cases, unskilled—that amputation became the standard treatment. Shock from the procedure itself killed a number of soldiers. Those who survived faced the likelihood of infection, since the concept of sterilizing instruments, or even the routine washing of hands, was still years in the future.

Some soldiers who lived through the operation found themselves addicted to the morphine or opium given to ease the pain. Simply witnessing the horrific scene at a field hospital made an indelible impression. As described by one chronicler: Buckets of blood and piles of amputated arms, legs, and feet littered the ground, and the groans or haunting death appeals of the mortally wounded rang forever in the ears of all those who were there.

Most soldiers had made their living through physical labor prior to the war. Whether a man had been a farmer or factory hand, teamster or construction worker, blacksmith or coal miner, the loss of a limb signified the end of his livelihood.

His options were few: Soldiers need not have suffered physical injury to fall victim to PTSD; proximity to the slaughter could prove sufficient.

A look at the shocks and horrors of the civil war

In his excellent book Shook Over Hell: Many captured soldiers on both sides considered remand to a prison camp tantamount to a death sentence; even if they survived, they were often physically and psychologically damaged for life.The Spanish Civil War was the first war to be witnessed (“covered”) in the modern sense: by a corps of professional photographers at the lines of military engagement and in the towns under bombardment, whose work was immediately seen in newspapers and magazines in Spain and abroad.

The earliest images come in the years while America was rebuilt following the end of the Civil War in The pictures were collated by English artist Ossian Brown for his book Haunted Air. The Horrors of War March 17, August 6, admin 0 Comments Chris Hedges has written an essay on the Horrific Industrial Violence the American Military Is Capable of, shown below.

As the war dragged on, medical opinion increasingly came to reflect recent advances in psychiatry, and the majority of shell shock cases were perceived as emotional collapse in the face of the unprecedented and hardly imaginable horrors of trench warfare.

Civil War Print showing General Robert E. Lee and some of the prominent Confederate Generals of The American Civil War. Celebrate Civil War and American History with this digitally restored vintage poster from The War Is Hell Store.

Given our understanding of the horrors of war, it is often difficult to understand how men coped with life at the Front during the First World War. Many, of course, did not: it is during this period that shell shock and what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder were first described and diagnosed.

General John B Gordon. | American Civil War Forums