By awarding the 2011 Coffman Prize , The Society of Military Historians has recognized The Seasoned Soldier: Coping with the Environment in Civil War Virginia. Kathryn S. Meier.
The Seasoned Soldier: Coping with the Environment in Civil War Virginia by drawing on a wide array of official and personal accounts examines the ways in which Union and Confederate soldiers understood and practiced self-care during the Peninsular and Shenandoah campaigns of 1862. Notwithstanding seminal efforts by the U.S. Sanitary Commission to improve soldiers’ living conditions, military medicine on both sides remained rudimentary and principally concerned with rooting out malingerers. Consequently, principal responsibility for maintaining physical and mental health—as well as combat effectiveness—devolved to the soldiers themselves. Over time, they acquired the skills required to look after their bodies and stave off melancholy, rendering themselves “seasoned soldiers.” Their respective armies depended on such men, even if they did not always understand or approve of their methods. What officers interpreted as desertion or straggling, the men often considered essential sojourns—necessary to mend bodies, augment diets, or restore nerves. Innovatively combining military, medical, and environmental history, A Seasoned Soldier sheds new light on two of the most storied campaigns of the Civil War and points the way for future scholarship in the field.
A Note From Dr. Meier to CWL: The manuscript is under review at UNC Press. I have my fingers crossed that if the process goes well it will be out in about a year. Until then a dissertation version of the manuscript can be read online via Alderman Library at University of Virginia, under the title “'No Place for the Sick': Nature’s War on Civil War Soldier Health in 1862 Virginia" or an article summarizing the argument appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era under the title “‘This is No Place for the Sick’: Nature’s War on Civil War Soldier Mental and Physical Health in the 1862 Peninsula and Shenandoah Valley Campaigns."
Text Source: Society of Military Historians
Image Source: University of Scranton