A Battle of Wills: Morale, Hope and the Army of Northern Virginia during the Last Year of the Civil War

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Virginia Tech

"A Battle of Wills" examines the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the final year of the American Civil War. By investigating the reactions to events such as battles and political happenings that occurred among the soldiers of the Confederacy's primary army we can see how the end of the Civil War unfolded for these men. The Army of Northern Virginia was the Confederacy's main hope for independence and the vehicle through which its identity flowed. Victory or defeat of that army would dictate the outcome of the Civil War. This thesis argues that by examining the fluctuations in morale, optimism, and hope among these soldiers through their letters and diaries, along with a proper historical context of when they were writing, can provide us a better understanding about the end of the Civil War. The ending was not predetermined or inevitable and this is evidenced in the writings of the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia during the final year of the war.

American Civil War, Military History, United States History, Emotional History