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Brothers One and All

Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment

Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

344 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 18 Halftones, 1 Map

ebook available

American History

  Paperback / 9780807131961 / September 2006
During the Civil War, the regiment was the fundamental component of armies both North and South, its reliability and effectiveness crucial to military success. Soldiers' devotion to their regiment--their esprit de corps--encouraged unit cohesion and motivated the individual soldier to march into battle and endure the hardships of military life. In Brothers One and All, Mark H. Dunkelman identifies the characteristics of Civil War esprit de corps and charts its development from recruitment and combat to the end of the war and beyond through the experiences of a single regiment, the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. Dunkelman offers a unique psychological portrait of a front-line unit that fought with distinction at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Valley, Rocky Face Ridge, and other engagements. He traces the evolution of natural camaraderie among friends and neighbors into a more profound sense of pride, enthusiasm, and loyalty forged as much in the shared unpleasantness of day-to-day army life as in the terrifying ordeal of battle.

Mark H. Dunkelman is the author of Brothers One and All: Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment; War's Relentless Hand: Twelve Tales of Civil War Soldiers; and Marching with Sherman: Through Georgia and the Carolinas with the 154th New York.

Review Quotes for Brothers One and All

“The wealth of soldiers’ letters and diaries for the 154th New York that Mark Dunkelman has discovered enables him to get really close to these men and to understand what made them tick. This book offers one of the best analyses of morale and esprit de corps that exists in the vast array of Civil War literature.”  —James M. McPherson

“A marvelous book—well-researched, well-written, and wise. Dunkelman brings new depth to the study of the Union soldier.”  —Reid Mitchell

“Dunkelman makes superb use of a wealth of personal accounts by soldiers to give us an unusually rich, intimate portrait of one Union regiment. His analysis rings true, as does his devotion to the history of the 154th New York. This is the only book that looks deeply at the communal spirit which bound soldiers into a ‘band of brothers,’ and it is a marvelous contribution to our understanding of that spirit.”  —Earl J. Hess

“Few if anyone today knows or appreciates a Civil War regiment, its mystique and personnel better than Mark H. Dunkelman. A lifelong romance with the 154th New York Infantry combined with remarkable sleuthing skills has brought to light a treasure trove of soldier and family letters, and articles in local newspapers in the two-county area that the soldiers called home. Blessed with these resources, Dunkelman’s Brothers One and All is more than just another unit history. His approach is novel and welcome, as underscored in the subtitle Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment. Drawing on a multiplicity of sources, Dunkelman in a thought-provoking narrative examines how the soldiers viewed themselves both as individuals and collectively during their evolution from civilians to members of an elite combat unit. As a World War II Marine, I see many parallels, as well as differences, in explaining the development, evolution and importance of unit esprit de corps. Esprit being vital to success in life, as well as war, Dunkelman’s book will have broad appeal to the general public, as well as the corporate and military world.”  —Edwin C. Bearss

“In his impressively researched and well-written Brothers One and All, Dunkelman does something that too few regimental histories have done; namely, use his unit as a case study to seriously examine broader questions about the common soldier of the Civil War and the cultural dynamics that shaped his experience. This is a marvelously conceived and superbly executed study. Hopefully, it will gain the wide readership it deserves and inspire further studies of its kind.”  —The Civil War News

In Brothers One and All: Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment, Dunkelman traces the spirit of one unit, the 154th Regiment, New York State infantry Volunteers, and in the process writes one of the best and most revealing books on soldiering yet published. Written with zeal and compassion, Dunkelman’s effort adds to our understanding of the common soldier, furthering the work of Bell Wiley, James McPherson and others. Brothers One and All should firmly establish the importance of esprit de corps to the Civil War regiment.”  —Civil War Times

“Where all too often regimental histories digress into flag-waving pablum, Dunkelman pulls no punches, presenting a warts-and-all assessment of the unit to try to understand the motivations of the men who composed the regiment. His efforts are successful. While respected historians such as Joseph Glatthaar, Francis A. Lord, Reid Mitchell, Earl J. Hess and Bell Irvin Wiley have previously approached the subject of esprit de corps, this is undoubtedly the most detailed treatment. It is an extremely well-crafted, well-written and well-researched book that offers new scholarship. It would make a worthy addition to any Civil War library.”  —America’s Civil War

Brothers One and All joins the lengthening list of books about the common soldiers of the Civil War that all serious students of the Civil War must read. At the same time, the author’s close analysis of regimental esprit makes the volume unique and of great interest to students of warfare in general. Dunkelman deserves great credit for this very considerable achievement.”  —Journal of Illinois History

“This is a compelling account of esprit de corps in a single regiment. It offers a welcome perspective on the reasons that soldiers fought and died during the Civil War.”  —Journal of Southern History

“Without a doubt this book is one of the most absorbing and enlightening you will ever read concerning the Civil War.”  —Military Images

“This study is a path-breaking work as well as a good read.” The Historian “Mark Dunkelman’s research of the 154th New York Regiment is an extremely important resource for the student of nineteenth century military society and culture in the United States. Brothers One and All opens a window into the mind of the Civil War soldier, providing an understanding of how trust, morale, and common experience were created and maintained in a Civil War regiment, through the abundant use of soldiers’ personal letters. This book exemplifies the strength and fragility of the bonds that hold a military unit together.”  —On Point: The Journal of Army History

“Drawing from an impressive array of primary sources, including letters, diaries, and memoirs as well as contemporary newspapers and official reporting, Dunkelman highlights the critical role of the regiment as the basic building block in esprit de corps during the Civil War. More than just telling the story of the Hardtack Regiment, Dunkelman’s Brothers One and All is a masterly account of how these men became comrades-in-arms.”  —The Journal of American History

Extras for Brothers One and All

Listen to Dunkelman discuss the book on Civil War Talk Radio

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