As you are reading through chapter 1 of Rough Enough, take a bit of time to “googlelup” (is that a new word?) some of the old periodicals and newspapers that have been scanned into the internet. I would suggest Harper’s Magazine and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper as starters. Read a couple of the descriptions of the battles that took place during the spring of June 1864. Again, a good one is to look up about the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg. Take a bit of time to read the verbiage and of the papers and then if you haven’t already read it, get a copy of The Crater, by Richard Slotkin (There are others who have also written on this theme including Newt Gingrich etc., but Slotkin’s work is the definitive piece.)
Once you have read the correspondents’ newspaper articles and seen those same battles described by historians with more access to the “facts”, you will begin to get the picture of why Richard Clow and others were lured towards the all consuming fires of the war’s front lines.
Now look at the pictures drawn by artists who may or may not have been anywhere near the war’s front lines. If you don’t have any pictures, take a good look at the cover of “Rough Enough” itself! The message is the same, an idealized view that sends a message very unlike the true reality of war.
After doing this, compare these idealized pictures with the photographs from the battlefield in the national archives. The rotting corpses in the ditches, the shattered houses and buildings and exhausted soldiers.
Once you have done this, then it’s time for you to write out your own essay or two on why young men enlisted then and now, go off to war, and then come back broken and shattered.