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Holmes’ front: constructing a new face of battle for America’s 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 Routledge, 2019.

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


In his seminal study of the changing nature of warfare between Agincourt and the Somme, military historian John Keegan proposed that future historians might consider combatants’ emotions in their assessments of the impact and nature of conflict. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of the history of emotions as an analytical approach, but rarely, if ever, is this directed toward the study of military history far less the history of insurgencies and counter-insurgencies. This paper examines America’s civil war (1861-1865) as a case study of the ways in which an emotional history approach might illuminate not the physical experiences of but rather the immediate and longer-term reactions to counter-insurgency conflict through a focus on one specific individual, the future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It proposes that Holmes, whilst not a man of the ranks, nevertheless can reveal the wider ramifications of civil war and its emotional impact, both individually and culturally. As a relatively limited internecine war, one not fought by professional armies but by volunteer forces, America’s civil war highlights the ways in which the soldier’s response points us toward the kind of emotional revolution that has, to date, mainly been located within the European nations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grant S-M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Small Wars and Insurgencies

Year: 2019

Volume: 30

Issue: 4-5

Pages: 818-840

Online publication date: 26/08/2019

Acceptance date: 04/06/2019

Date deposited: 02/07/2019

ISSN (print): 0959-2318

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9558

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2019.1638543


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