SOLDIERS AND CIVILIANS: The Martial Spirit in America, 1776-1865 by Marcus Cunliffe

SOLDIERS AND CIVILIANS: The Martial Spirit in America, 1776-1865

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The standard examinations of the civilian-military relationship -- say, Millis' Arms and Men and Huntington's The Soldier and the State -- point out that professional soldiering is not highly esteemed in America, particularly in peacetime. Professor Cunliffe makes no major departure. His thesis that ""a nation's military attitudes may throw unfamiliar light upon its social order and values"" leads him into a far-ranging (and not very neat) study of the views of soldiers, populace, and politicans toward a standing army in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War. He does turn up a ""triple heritage"": antimilitarist, amateur, and professional. But, he shows, that for the most part, the peacetime ""regulars"" were pariahs even to the most patriotic Americans while the militia (the amateurs) continued to be regarded as the ""bulwark of liberty."" Cunliffe, a Britisher who specializes in American studies (George Washington, 1958, and The Nation Takes Shape, 1959), puts great stock in debunking historical myth. Here he must content himself with showing through military academy enrollment and graduation figures that the North contributed more officers than the South -- proof positive that any notion of American militarism as strongest in the antebellum South is sheer legend. A respected historian with a limited reconnaissance.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1968
Publisher: Little, Brown