“This great and terrible war has fetched me where I now stand. But I don’t regret my service to my country. Had I a thousand lives I would give them. … By my service to my country I have been made a pauper, a lunatic and a criminal, and I place myself in the hands of the great Governor of all things, who knows all hearts.”
A month later, Lieutenant Robert Buffum committed suicide in a New York criminal asylum.
What did the Civil War do to its veterans? How did they cope with the horrors they suffered and inflicted? What trauma did soldiers bring home to their families after 1865? How relevant are these stories to our present?
Robert Buffum makes us confront each of these questions. To help guide thoughtful discussions in classrooms and communities, CWGK has assembled a guided primary source reader that presents the story of a veteran struggling with loss, physical scars, substance abuse, a crumbling domestic life, and lack of support from the government he fought to defend.
Teach “Where I Now Stand”
“Where I Now Stand” can be read on its own, or paired with the included primary source analysis tools and a (collaborative or individual) writing activity that encourages students to link Buffum’s 150 year old case to the issues facing veterans and military families in the present. Click here to request a free PDF copy for use in your classroom or community.
CWGK Project Director Patrick Lewis presented Buffum’s story at a KHS event in the summer of 2017 and followed this half hour recorded talk with an audience dialogue on veterans, past and present. Contact CWGK for information about bringing this program to you.