Title page for ETD etd-5946112339731121

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hephner, Richard H.
URN etd-5946112339731121
Title "Where Youth and Laughter Go:" Trench Warfare from petersburg to the Western Front
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Farrar, Hayward
Soper, Steven
Robertson, James I. Jr. Committee Chair
  • trench warfare
  • petersburg va
  • western front
  • experience
  • fraternization
  • shell-shock
Date of Defense 1997-04-17
Availability unrestricted
The study of soldiers' experience is important

to understanding the effect that wars have on

society. In the latter part of the 19th century

the experience of warfare changed due to

advances in weapons technology. The

defensive tactic of trench warfare gained new

importance. The most prolific use of trench

warfare occured on the Western Front in the

First World War, but it was during the siege of

Petersburg in the American Civil War that

extensive trenches were first used with

technologically advanced weapons. By

comparing the siege of Petersburg with the

Western Front, it is clear that similar conditions

elicited similar emotional reactions from

soldiers. The most common reactions were

fraternization and war neurosis. Fraternization

was more prevelant during the siege of

Petersburg than at other times during the war.

Fraternization was also common on the

Western Front. The reasons for this vary, but

are all linked to the nature of trench warfare.

War neurosis was also caused by the

conditions of the trenches. It was a bigger

problem at Petersburg and on the Western

Front than it was for soldiers in other conflicts.

Trench warfare created these emotional


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