BA in History
Deserters made up almost 10% of both armies in the American Civil War, and yet very few Americans discuss or even know about their existence. The impact of desertion is huge, with its full army, the Confederates could have had a chance at defeating the Union, or the war might have ended sooner, lessening the impact on the nation. Using 4 different historic novels written throughout the 20th century, this essay analyzes the American public’s perception towards deserters. The result from this close study is the understanding that the farther we get away from the conflict that shaped the America we live in today, deserters become more sympathetic characters, but also that those characters tend to be Confederate soldiers, and not Union ones. In the end, Americans still have a long way to go to accepting the true nature of the Civil War and the effects it had on our citizens.