Death & Grieving in the Civil War

I’m in the early chapters of  Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering, which talks about how the Civil War impacted American attitudes towards death and grieving. This site has an excellent summary of its own on the topic.

For family members and friends in the North, the prospect of loved ones dying far away from home, and being interred in what most considered to be profane Southern soil, led to a great deal of anguish and outrage. Indeed, many Northerners were deeply disturbed by this prospect because it upset normal social scripts ingrained in American culture when a family experienced a death. In normal times, death occurred in the home, people had a chance to view the body before it disappeared forever, and burial took place in a familiar space, which usually included previously deceased family members and neighbors. These were not normal times for sure, so some families, particularly the more affluent families in the North, would do whatever they could to bring the body of a loved family member’s home, either by making the trip south on their own, or paying someone to locate, retrieve, and ship the body north.

As a result of these desires—to maintain familial control over the final resting place and, if possible, to have one last look before the bodyvanished—a new form of treating the dead appeared on the social scene, and paved the way for the birth of an entirely modern funeral industry. Undertakers who contracted with Northern families began to experiment with innovative means to preserve bodies that had to be shipped long distances on train cars, often during the hot summer months. The revolutionary practice that emerged in this context, embalming, provided both the military and Northern communities with a scientific, sanitary, and sensible way to move bodies across the land.
Read more: Civil War, U.S. – rituals, world, burial, body, funeral, life, history, cause, rate, time, human, The Presence of Death, Disposing of the Dead http://www.deathreference.com/Ce-Da/Civil-War-U-S.html#ixzz1dPv97rPrhttp://www.deathreference.com/Ce-Da/Civil-War-U-S.html

Post a Comment