Battle Themes In Herman Melville's The Victor Of Antietam

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The Victor of Antietam is one of seventy-two segments that Herman Melville published in his first poem publication Battle Pieces. The volume represents Melville’s inaugural attempt to move away from singularly prose artistry to focus instead on poetry. In Battle Pieces, Melville investigated his ability to engage with shorter works, assert himself as a political voice, and connect with sentiments of the public. Battle Pieces aims specifically at tackling Americanism during the Civil War. The queries he rose such as: what did it mean to win? was it worth it? and who really won? were directed at the deep-deep diving reader but were instead squandered by the superficial skimmers. In its first twenty years after publication Battle Pieces sold only …show more content…
He was promoted from leader of an Ohio volunteer army to major general in the Union army at one point he was even nicknamed “The Young Napoleon.” However, his success was cut short by a series of failed battles and poor strategic decisions. President Lincoln began to see McClellan’s leadership as a hindrance to the Union Army, his perceived failure to induce a full-fledged success at Antietam was the last straw and caused Lincoln to dismiss him from his rank as general-in-chief. McClellan’s release from the Union Army as a failed leader parallels Herman Melville’s identity as a failed literary hero. They were both held back in their respective occupations by public attitudes toward their abilities. Coincidentally, Melville was also overlooked by the American government as he was not given a job as a consul to Florence, Italy under President …show more content…
Melville’s Shiloh depicts the Battle of Shiloh where the diction describes soldiers of the opposing sides coming together. He explored how arbitrary it was that they fought and how at the end they would all be friends in death. This sentiment was not popular, especially to members of the Union who saw Melville’s focus on the individuals feelings rather than on the glorious cause as ambivalence. Furthermore, The Conflict of Convictions discusses what it is that the war is fighting. Who the conflict is between and what it means to have such devoted opinions to one side or another as in some cases it leads to ignorance. His quote “ha ha, the rust on the Iron Dome” in The Conflict of Convictions along with The Victor of Antietam statement “quills thwarted swords” alludes to the corruption of the Union government and the inability for them to make clear

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