Monday, May 6, 2013

The War Within

My career has exposed me to things that sometimes I would have rather not seen.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me on occasion.  I think if you talk to anyone who is involved in fire/ems/law enforcement, they'd tell you the same.....if they were being honest.  As a former adjunct history professor (and soon to be again I hope), I have also had the pleasure of teaching many veterans in class.  Some of them were suffering what we call PTSD in the modern era, though it has had many names in the past.  As long as humans have experienced trauma outside the realm of everyday experience, they have suffered from this issue.

Being a Civil War Addict, I often wonder about those hidden casualties of the war.  How many soldiers on both sides went home still reliving the war each night in their dreams?  How many of them were never able to function fully in society again?  These are the war's unseen and often uncounted victims.  And it isn't just the soldiers either.  Civilians faced the harsh realities of war as well, though not on the same level as in Europe during World War 2.  Think of the children who, while sheltered in basements, heard battles raging outside.  Or witnessed the awful carnage of having a field hospital set up in their yard or home.  To think that they faced all this and went on about their lives as if nothing had ever happened is simply not accurate.

Within the past few years, there has been some recent scholarship on this issue, however it is still vastly unstudied.  We would rather talk about what happened during Pickett's Charge rather than what happened to the soldiers who survived it but were never quite the same again.  Plus, the records are difficult to piece together.  It isn't a "sexy" topic, but it is one that we do need to understand.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.