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Welcome to my website. Here you can read my blog about my ongoing research projects. You can also read my bloviating about current events from a historical perspective. You can also find information about my projects, teaching and find ways to contact me

Opening Salvo: Invisible Wounds

Opening Salvo: Invisible Wounds

In 2010 I started a graduate program at the University of Georgia in history and began researching what would become my dissertation. I wanted to write a dissertation on PTSD and Civil War soldiers. But once I immersed myself in the archives and records, I found the story was more complicated than I previously imagined. I expected to find a sea of damaged men, struggling with the memories of the hospital ward or the picket post; but instead I found soldiers coping with the trauma of war in a variety of ways, such as turning to religion, entering into hospitals, relying on their fellow soldiers, and occasionally deserting. I expected to find soldiers and doctors who were totally ignorant of psychiatric trauma and mental disorders; and while medicine and psychiatry were certainly in their infancy, soldiers and doctors were evolving in their understanding of the effects of the war. I was surprised to find the families of mentally ill Civil War veterans who were strong advocates of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. These families often conceptualized the trauma of war in a radically different fashion than doctors. Families often directly tied the war to their loved ones' mental breakdown, while physicians often did not. I was also surprised to find that neurologists, the new wave psychiatrists of the nineteenth century did much of their work on Civil War veterans. In a way, modern psychiatry was built from the treatment of veterans of the Civil War.

This blog will contain dispatches from my forthcoming book project "Invisible Wounds: Veterans of the American Civil War in the Gilded Age." It will share some of the stories and ideas from the book project. Here you will find stories of soldiers sharing nightmares of their time in Civil War hospitals and on the battlefield. You will find tales of soldiers finding ways to cope with their traumatic memories of the conflict. You will find stories of doctors, asylums and the evolution of federal policy in treating the mentally ill and Civil War veterans. You will find discussions on the evolving state of American medicine and psychiatry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. You will find meditations on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and whether Civil War veterans suffered with it or not.

Part of this is practice for me, as writing, like anything else requires practice. Part of it is also a sneak peak for interested readers. In any case, I hope y'all enjoy!

Dispatches: Suffering in the Civil War Era

Dispatches: Suffering in the Civil War Era