Secession and Civil War Questions and Answers

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What did the Union and Confederate soldiers believe they were fighting for in the Civil War?

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Yong Blackwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The reasons for joining either the Union or Confederate Army were complex and often personal. Union soldiers, for the most part, did not join the army with the expectation that they were fighting to free currently-enslaved individuals. Likewise, few average Confederate soldiers joined the army with the expectation that they were fighting to spread the institution of slavery or even maintain the institution of slavery. Union soldiers may have joined the army hoping to preserve the Union, while Confederate soldiers may have joined the army hoping to create the Confederacy.

There are two important things to keep in mind when discussing the reasons for joining either army. The first thing to remember is that, at the time, war and battle were described in terms of glory and adventure. Sentiments about battle and war were instilled by poems such as "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and popular literature focused on the heroics of generals and soldiers. This, combined with the popular opinion...

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