A Proper Sense of Honor

A Proper Sense of Honor : Service and Sacrifice in George Washington's Army

3.72 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
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Armies are the products of the societies that create them. In 1775, when patriot leaders formed the Continental army, they were informed by their own experiences and their knowledge of the British army. Thus, the Continental Congress created a corps of officers who were gentlemen and a body of soldiers who were not. Caroline Cox shows that, following this decision, a great gap existed in the conditions of service between soldiers and officers of the Continental army. Her study of daily military life, punishment and military justice, medical care and burial rituals illuminates the social world of the Continental army and shows how every aspect of life reinforced the distinctions of rank. At a time when existing social arrangements were increasingly challenged by war and political rhetoric that embraced the equal rights of men, Cox shows that change crept slowly into American military life.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 21.84mm | 526.17g
  • Chapel Hill, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0807858617
  • 9780807858615
  • 2,087,674

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This book examines the decision of the Revolutionary leadership to create a gentlemanly officer corps and the effects of the decision as the Continental Army's ranks came to be made up of society's poorest men. The differing standard of physical treatment for soldiers and officers in punishment, sickness, and death is the prism through which Caroline Cox studies social relations both within the army and between it and the larger society. The army was an organization that both reinforced order and rank but also offered some social mobility.
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Review quote

""A Proper Sense of Honor" depicts the Continental Army's officers and men as being united not only in a common struggle for liberty, but also in their shared understanding and acceptance of conceptions of personal honor and status. . . . It stands as an original and frequently engrossing contribution to the social history of that army."
-- "Army History" "A very important study of the Continental Army's social organization. . . . Effectively bridges 18th-century military and civilian societies to produce a better view of Revolutionary War America. Highly recommended."
-- "Choice" "[Illuminates] the cultural and political assumptions of those Americans who did not or could not leave written accounts of their experiences and beliefs. . . . Challenges the image of the American Revolution as an engine of social and political change that liberated Americans from Old World conventions and constraints."
-- "William and Mary Quarterly" This is a very good book indeed. Cox's writing is concise and graceful throughout, her organization is admirably clear, and her argument is compelling.
--"American Historical Review" A well-crafted study. . . . Cox provides a vast amount of useful and fascinating information.
--"Journal of American History" This is an excellent study, highly original in its approach.Don Higginbotham, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill This is an intriguing, logically organized, and well-written book.Fred Anderson, University of Colorado at Boulder "A Proper Sense of Honor" brings us closer to the inner life of the Continental Army than any previous book."On Point"
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About Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox is associate professor of history at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
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Rating details

25 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 20% (5)
4 44% (11)
3 24% (6)
2 12% (3)
1 0% (0)
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