Date of Award

6-30-2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Art

First Advisor

Thomas J Brown

Abstract

This thesis examines the long term consequences of spatial and temporal distance on marriages during the Civil War. The absence of male labor created by enlistment in the Union Army stretched women to their economic limits while physical and emotional separation created opportunities for infidelity for both husbands and wives. Central to this narrative is mid-nineteenth-century ideas about manhood. The war offered a confirmation of male adulthood, but also required men to abandon the duties to home that were no less fundamental to the ideal of male maturity. Recent scholarship on veterans’ disabilities, including mental illness and substance abuse, show that this paradox continued to define soldiers’ lives for decades after the war. Equally important to the narrative is perceptions of female behavior and morality as women navigated the economic hardships and exigencies of a protracted military conflict. The central themes of this thesis are brought forward by utilizing the pension records of George A. Casedy, a volunteer with the 17th and 97th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as well as the 61st New York Volunteer Infantry. Casedy contracted syphilis during the war under circumstances created by his absence in the army, circumstances which Bureau of Pension examiners in the 1890s found shocking and appalling. The distance created by the Civil War strained the fabric of George Casedy’s marriage and led to decisions that had long-term negative consequences.

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