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Coming home Dr. James Marten explores the postwar lives of Civil War veterans By Jessie Bazan F rom the decisive battle at Gettysburg to the bloody battle of Antietam, America’s Civil War was filled with some of the most unforgettable clashes in our country’s history. Northern and Southern soldiers alike entered each new conflict with a strong sense of pride and commitment to the present struggle. But what happened to these men after the final gunshots? Dr. James Marten, Marquette professor and chair of the Department of History, explores the postwar lives of these veterans in his new book, Sing Not War: The Lives of Union & Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America. As a child growing up in South Dakota, backyard games of “Army” and the other ones we don’t know much Kurt Russell action movies sparked about.” So Marten delved deeper into Marten’s fascination with the Civil War the veterans’ lives. at a young age. The allure of America’s Marten researched the book off and deadliest internal struggle followed on over 16 years. For firsthand accounts Marten into adulthood and to Marquette, and stories from veterans, he searched where he has spent his time researching, out 19th-century veterans’ newspapers teaching and writing about everything like the American Tribune and the their families and former communities. from the war’s effect on children to Confederate Veteran. He found a particu- While only a small percentage of return- displaced soldiers on the edges of larly unusual, if small, set of sources at ing soldiers ended up in homes, their society. In his latest book, Sing Not War, the Veterans Affairs hospital library stories of rejection and struggle reflected Marten examines the struggles Civil War in Milwaukee. those of the larger veteran population. soldiers faced while reintegrating into “For some reason, left behind some- Northern and Southern soldiers alike society after combat — a topic few where was a big ledger with disciplinary faced tremendous obstacles as they tried historians previously tackled. actions against the men, health records to acclimate to postwar life. “If they do fine, they’re not very interesting to historians,” says Marten, 6 Excellence. “We know about them. It’s and a few other little things,” says Marten. Inside these records, Marten found “You’re worn out. Even if you didn’t get wounded or didn’t miss a day, you’re who received Marquette’s 2010 Lawrence stories of marginalized veterans stuck in just not well quite often,” Marten says G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Research rambunctious group homes, away from of the men who spent their 20s at war Discover