Liquor was essential to military culture as well as healthcare regimens in both the Union and Confederate armies. But its widespread use and misuse caused severe disruptions as unruly drunken soldiers and officers stumbled down roads and through towns, colliding with civilians. The problems surrounding liquor prompted debates among military officials, soldiers, and civilians as to what constituted acceptable drinking. While Americans never could agree on precisely when it was appropriate to make or drink alcohol, one consensus emerged: the wasteful manufacture and reckless consumption of spirits during a time of civil war was so unpatriotic that it sometimes bordered on disloyalty.
Using an array of sources—temperance periodicals, soldiers' accounts, legislative proceedings, and military records—Megan L. Bever explores the relationship between war, the practical realities of drinking alcohol, and temperance sentiment within the United States. Her insightful conclusions promise to shed new light on our understanding of soldiers' and veterans' lives, civil-military relations, and the complicated relationship between drinking, morality, and masculinity.