Civil War Letters of Joseph K. Taylor of the 37th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

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These letters, written mostly to Taylor's father, illustrate many specific attitudes of Union soldiers. They reflect army morale, attitudes toward stay-at-homes, "copperheads" and commanding generals. They add new texture to the burgeoning social history of the American Civil War. Well educated and quite literate, Taylor gives expression to the values of many soldiers, defining 19th-century ideas of manhood, duty, courage and community, and confirm some themes in the new scholarship while contradicting others. Taylor volunteered in August, 1862 and served in the Army of the Potomac until August, 1864, when he died of wounds sustained in a skirmish near Charlestown, WV. He left the sophomore class at Amherst College to enlist, was promoted to sergeant in the 37th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which participated at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the 1864 Shenendoah Valley campaign.

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