Sex and Fraternization

The Civil War is commonly called the last gentleman’s war. This means that there was a certain code of conduct and honor that was adhered to by all. While there were many instances of vicious brutality in the war it was also right next to instances of seemingly bizarre fraternization. Men from both sides were commonly having Sex with women from the other side and there were a great number of prisoners of war who simply settled where they were freed and took up with Sex partners or wives from the area.

This in itself isn’t all that rare since it’s happened in virtually every war, but what is rare is the frequency with which it happened and the frequency of the fraternization of troops. It was not uncommon for troops to mingle when they could and those on the front lines were very often seen sneaking over to the enemy to trade and talk and simply commiserate. They commonly halted battles to help the wounded and give succor, water and gather them from the field. There were instances of troops of both sides stopping a battle to cooperate in putting out forest fires. They routinely warned each other of incoming fire so the other side could take defensive positions and not get hurt. In some ways they seemed to deal with the war in a very adult manner. Sometimes men who were part of the singles scene and young were given a pass to return to their lines because they were too young to die and had full lives ahead of them. The instances of cooperation and friendship between the two sides grew to such epic proportions that at one point general orders from the Armies were issued telling the troops to stop fraternizing with the enemy. This sort of getting along is distinct to the American conflict and virtually unheard of anywhere else in the annals of war.

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