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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.

Author:

Brian Valimont

University of Southern Mississippi, US
About Brian
Brian Valimont is a PhD student in History at the University of Southern Mississippi. Brian worked for decades as a field archaeologist in the United States, investigating and documenting Native American and historic archaeological sites. He has an MA in Anthropology from the University of Alabama and an MA in History from Salem State University.
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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.
How to Cite: Valimont, Brian. 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: http://doi.org/10.25894/eih.96
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Published on 09 Apr 2022.

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