Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Morag Martin

First Reader

John Daly

Second Reader

Paul Moyer

Abstract

This thesis seeks to answer one of the fundamental questions of history: how did the people, in a given place and time, view their world? This work addresses Confederates, or those Southerners who supported the secession movement and the Confederate States of America, during the American Civil War, 1861-1865. This work seeks to offer a nuanced view into the minds of Confederates over the course of the war by framing their experience with the Five Step Grieving Process. This process, first described by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identifies the five major emotions a person experiences while suffering a loss. These emotions are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This framework allows greater insight into the Confederate culture because it does not force people’s lived experiences into a cause, process, effect format. Instead, it allows flexibility in understanding the human condition as many different people faced the loss of a way of life.

The five stages of the Grieving Process provide the structure for this thesis. Research rooted in the diaries, letters, newspapers, and sermons of Confederates allows their lived experience, told in their own words, to illustrate the usefulness of the five-step grieving process as an analytical framework. This approach brings together voices from women, men, soldiers, civilians, government officials and journalists from across the Confederacy. Class lines and geographical boundaries only enhance the efficacy of the framework as the Confederates worked toward accepting the doom of the American Civil War.

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