Book Review

Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization Throughout the American Civil War. By Lauren K. Thompson. (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2020) Pp. 240. Hardcover, $55.

Abstract

Thompson’s book Friendly Enemies examines the occurrence of fraternization between Union and Confederate soldiers over the course of the American Civil War. She provides evidence from soldier’s letters and diaries on the numerous instances when soldiers from opposing armies crossed the picket lines and shared coffee, meals and other comfort items like tobacco, alcohol and newspapers. Soldiers did so knowingly risking arrest. They did it because, Thompson argues, it was beneficial and enjoyable to do so. It brought them moments of escape, peace and the ability to assert their individual will and freedom in the otherwise controlled subordination of military regime. Thompson argues that it was a means of providing mental escape from the hardships of war by providing an opportunity to commiserate about their hardships. Thompson found that the majority of fraternizers were ideologically committed to the war’s conclusion, that they were not noncommittal resisters. Thompson also observes that fraternization exclusively took place between white soldiers. Confederate soldier’s with beliefs in white supremacy did not fraternize with black Union soldiers.

Keywords

American Civil War, US Civil War, Military History, War and Society, 19th Century US History, Civil War Era, Civil War History, Social History

How to Cite

Valimont, B., (2022) “Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization Throughout the American Civil War. By Lauren K. Thompson. (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2020) Pp. 240. Hardcover, $55.”, Essays in History 55(1), 1-3. doi: https://doi.org/10.25894/eih.96

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Authors

Brian Valimont (University of Southern Mississippi)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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