Photo by Chad Brocker

Patriotic memories are very important in reading historical fiction, and in The Bone Pile series by fiction novelist and author Sharon Turner, patriotism is delivered.

For much of the world, what happened between 1861 and 1865 might just be something for the history books. But for those of us who wish to pass on our patriotic memories, the American Civil War wasn’t just a bloody conflict within a nation split in two. The American Civil War was a seismic shift. Its occurrence was a harbinger of much change. This especially in regard to the identity of the nation rising from the smoke and the rubble. During this dark time of American history, brothers fought against brothers and families were torn asunder. A nation that had been at peace with itself was grappling with the core ideals upon which it was founded.

Now, over two decades later, the war and everything that comes with it still resonates deeply, offering not only a reminder of what has been done but what can be done. This is why stories set in this period are very important and offer not just historical lessons but also a window into the complexities of the American character.

Why Remember the American Civil War

Today, the United States continues to grapple with issues of race, equality, and national identity. Civil War stories offer valuable context for these contemporary challenges. By examining the past, we can identify patterns, understand the roots of division, and work towards a more just and unified future. This also has the added benefit of passing down patriotic memories to further generations.

Furthermore, Civil War stories teach us about the importance of empathy and understanding. By delving into the motivations and experiences of those on both sides of the conflict, we develop a more nuanced understanding of history. This, in turn, fosters dialogue within a very diverse and complex world.

A Nation Divided

Understanding Civil War stories necessitates recognizing the deep divisions that plagued the country. The primary issue was slavery, a brutal system where human beings were seen as property. The North, with growing industrial might, saw slavery as an antique practice that hindered economic progress. The South, heavily reliant on slave labor for its cotton-based economy, fiercely defended its states’ rights to maintain the institution. These tensions simmered for decades, fueled by political compromises that only postponed the inevitable.

Civil War stories provide a window into the motivations of those who fought. We hear from idealistic young men driven by patriotism on both sides, from enslaved people risking everything for freedom, and from the women who shouldered the burdens left behind. Harriet Tubman’s daring raids with the Underground Railroad, Abraham Lincoln’s eloquent pleas for unity, and Robert E. Lee’s agonizing decision to secede with his home state of Virginia. These are just a few examples of the human narratives within the grand historical drama.

The Cost of Patriotism

Stories set in the Civil War aren’t just about grand battles like Gettysburg or Antietam. They delve into the brutal realities of war – the horrors of trench warfare, the agonizing wounds, and the psychological scars left on soldiers. We see the struggles of civilians caught in the crossfire, their homes destroyed, and loved ones lost. 

Civil War stories highlight the resilience of the human spirit. We see the courage of soldiers facing overwhelming odds, the compassion of nurses tending to the wounded, and the determination of families to rebuild their lives. 

Passing Down Patriotic Memories

The Civil War’s end marked the abolishment of slavery, a turning point in American history. However, the fight for racial equality was far from over. Civil War stories act as a bridge to the ongoing struggle for civil rights. Examining Reconstruction, the complex period after the war, allows us to understand the challenges of integrating formerly enslaved people into society.

The conflict also left deep social and economic scars. Rebuilding the war-torn nation proved a monumental task, and the South’s resentment lingered for decades. Civil War stories remind us that national unity is a constant pursuit, not a given.

Fiction novelist and author Sharon Traner’s The Bone Pile series is an epic historical trilogy that wonderfully presents nuance and humanity to both sides in one of the most disturbing and bloodiest conflicts in human history. 

Share This
Skip to content