The Politics of War

The Politics of War

As a soldier, Turner fiercely believed in the Union cause, but was often frustrated by the politics that surrounded the war.  When he enlisted at seventeen, his nationalist rhetoric could characterize the attitude of any number of young war volunteers, but as Turner’s enlistment wore on he began to mature in his perceptions.  From the beginning to the end of Turner’s letters three years passed, and his maturity can be marked in his changing opinions, and his own comments about his personal growth.  Though Turner faced many realities that challenged his original perceptions, his letters reveal that he never allowed cynicism to take him over completely.  Until the end of his enlistment Turner’s letters still maintained the congenial charm that makes them so unique, but still shows the maturity that he fostered from his war experience.


This collection of letters features Turner’s changing perceptions about the war, and the politics that surrounded it.  Turner’s fervent rejection of “Copperheads” or “Peace Democrats,” a Northern political party that rejected action in the Civil War and sought peace with the Confederates, is a dominant theme in many of these letters.  However, Turner was also critical of individuals within the Union army as well, as he often writes of his dislike for the men in charge, and the ways that they treat soldiers. Though Turner never lost the sense of patriotism that he possessed when he enlisted, it was tempered by his experience with the politics of war. 

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