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‘The Kindness of Strangers: Soldiers, Surgeons, Civilians and Conflict Intimacies in the American Civil War.’

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Susan-Mary Grant



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor and Francis, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


America’s Civil War is often identified as the instigator of a new, industrial discipline that replaced the individualism of the antebellum era. Its traditional narrative trajectory is one of consolidation and cooperation that emphasizes the emergence of order from the chaos of conflict and the ordering of idealized, individual masculine bodies in the service of an equally glorified national body. This article complicates contemporary assumptions pertaining to gender, martial manhood, and national health in a wartime context. Juxtaposing the reports produced by Draft Board doctors in the later years of the conflict against a selection of nursing memoirs, it examines the ways in which elite assumptions about national health and military preparedness were challenged by the intimate realities of the war. It explores the tensions revealed through the federal draft between voluntarism and coercion, and the resultant shift from intimacy to estrangement in the later years of the conflict. It reveals that the points of intimacy between strangers effected by the Civil War were not always positive or supportive. Too often they were controlling confrontations that challenge the national narrative that has for so long pertained in the case of America’s mid-nineteenth century civil conflict.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grant S-M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Critical Military Studies

Year: 2020

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

Pages: 140-159

Online publication date: 13/05/2019

Acceptance date: 26/04/2019

Date deposited: 14/05/2019

ISSN (print): 2333-7486

ISSN (electronic): 2333-7494

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/23337486.2019.1613085


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