And let’s not forget that the Civil War deaths were fairly personal: you actually shot people or you bayonetted them and they were right in front of you. You did not get to be in a tank and shoot people who were 50, 150 yards away from you. The sheer amount of death was devastating to the men who fought in the Civil War, and who survived. So when we hear the Walt Whitman poems, it’s just this endless elegy to male beauty, to male sentiment, to the uniqueness of men—and quite sexualized, often, within Whitman's poetry and in his journals. On the other hand we have… not the image of the brave Union soldier or brave “Johnny Reb,” but in fact the young vulnerable boy who has simply been torn apart. So the male body becomes here, and we see this later in World War II, which we'll discuss in a later podcast, we see the male body completely heroicized and lionized for being brave, and at the same time pitiable in its vulnerability.
Via Deanna Dahlsad