What They Fought for, 1861-1865
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

What They Fought for, 1861-1865

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  196 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In Battle Cry Of Freedom,James M. McPherson presented a fascinating, concisegeneral history of the defining American conflict.With What They Fought For, hefocuses his considerable talents on what motivatedthe individual soldier to fight. In an exceptionaland highly original Civil War analysis, McPhersondraws on the letters and diaries of nearly onethousand Union and Confed...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Anchor (first published 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What They Fought for, 1861-1865, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What They Fought for, 1861-1865

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 414)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Steven Peterson
James McPherson is an eminent historian, who has written some classics, such as "Battle Cry of Freedom." This is a slender volume (part of a larger research project and the basis for a lecture) that is based on an interesting thesis: that soldiers, both north and south, fought to a considerable extent for ideology, and not solely as brothers in arms with other troops, for ideals of manhood, for the notions of honor and duty, and so on..

He used as his "data base" hundreds of letters and diaries...more
Zach Vaughn
In "What They Fought For," James McPherson presents us with his study of the correspondence of Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War as an examination of what these men believed they were fighting war. There is constant debate about what the Civil War was about and why these men chose to fight, and McPherson presents us words straight from the horse's mouths. The first chapter covers the correspondence of Confederate soldiers, while chapter 2 that of Union soldiers. The last chapte...more
A great hour long read that helps you understand the reasons the North and South went to war. McPherson with the help of the thousands of soldier letters he read shows what the soldiers on the battlefield thought of fighting their neighbors and what they believed they were going to war for.
Jun 13, 2008 Missmath144 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my siblings
Shelves: civil-war, history, war
McPherson explores the reasons Union soldiers fought, the reasons Confederate soldiers fought, and attitudes of both sides towards slavery. An easy read while still being very informative. A precursor to a longer book titled For Cause and Comrades : Why Men Fought in the Civil War.
Avis Black
A rather feeble book. This is the sort of work you produce when you've decided to coast on your laurels. McPherson deservedly won acclaim with The Battle Cry of Freedom, which was a good synopsis of the Civil War, but he's gone badly downhill ever since.
Although it is a short book of less than one hundred pages, quite a lot is packed into the book. The author succinctly articulates the motivations of Union and Confederate soldiers based largely on letters written by the men in blue and gray.
Mr Salyer
An excellent primary source (letters/diaries) review!! This would be an excellent book for those attempting to make sense of the Civil War.
Milan Homola
I really enjoyed this great super quick read. It is a well organized use of quotes from personal letters that support well formulated theories about the motivations and issues in the civil war
Jennifer Eckel
Short & Powerful. I live in the South. I would still support the Union.
Extremely interesting read for anyone interested in the Civil War. Essentially, the novel is composed of thousands of letters of officers in the Civil War. This novel gives readers a true look into the insight of what soldiers who were on the battle lines were going through.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
Shelves: history
Laura marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2014
David Addiss
David Addiss marked it as to-read
Sep 13, 2014
Brenda marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2014
Melissa marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2014
Samuel added it
Jul 16, 2014
Kim Smith
Kim Smith marked it as to-read
Jul 15, 2014
David added it
Jul 14, 2014
Pat marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
  • Mary Chesnut's Civil War
  • The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story (Pivotal Moments in American History)
  • Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War
  • The State of Jones
  • Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow
  • Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
  • Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America
  • The Coming Fury
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America 1859-1863
  • The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861
  • The Civil War: An Illustrated History
  • American Slavery: 1619-1877
  • Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877
  • Southern Storm
  • The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
  • Shiloh, 1862
  • A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke
James M. McPherson (born October 11, 1936) is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. He was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003, and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica.

More about James M. McPherson...
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam

Share This Book