Drew Gilpin Faust's books include This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.
From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: How did the death toll of the Civil War – an estimated 620,000 soldiers and 50,000 civilians and perhaps even more, according to a new estimate – change us as a nation?--Marshal Zeringue
A: We learned about our obligations to the dead. If we are to understand ourselves as a nation made up of citizens, and if we ask people to fight in defense of that democracy, there are obligations owed to them.
Before the Civil War, there were no national cemeteries, no processes for identifying the dead in the battle. There weren't any dog tags, and there was no next-of-kin notification.
You didn't necessarily even hear what the fate of your loved ones had been. It was up to their comrades to write and inform you.
Those kinds of practices were transformed by the recognition of what the country owes to the citizen in the way of an honorable death and the responsibility for the remains and for the kin of those who have died in war.
Q: How was the government itself transformed by its new responsibility to take care of soldiers who lived and those who died?
A: It had never had so much work as was represented by the bureaucracy necessary to rebury the dead, with more than 300,000 Union soldiers relocated and buried in national cemeteries.
That was an enormous logistical undertaking. And the pension system that was set up to take care of the relatives required...[read on]