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You’ll Be Scared – Sure You’ll Be Scared by Philip Cole

What possesses a unit of soldiers to run headlong into a frontal assault on a heavily defended position, knowing that the chances of success aren’t great and that they could die? Many might ask: aren’t they scared?

The answer is: of course they are. That’s not really what matters at that moment, however. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Nowhere in American military history was that something more important than in the Civil War. Union soldiers marched into the grim melee of the world’s first modern war, knowing they might be maimed or killed. 

Psychological Strain on the Battlefield: Insights from “You’ll Be Scared – Sure You’ll”

Fear is the natural process that keeps us alive and (hopefully) unharmed in the face of overwhelming danger. It’s what provokes us to run away to safety or prepare to stand our ground. But war is different. Soldiers can’t run away from their duty in the middle of a battle just because their fear response kicks in. Moreover, the fear and how they cope with that fear begins to shape who they are. 

It’s altogether fitting that author Philip M. Cole tackles this subject in his book “You’ll Be Scared. Sure – You’ll Be Scared – Fear, Stress, and Coping in the Civil War.” Cole is a U.S. Navy veteran who was born and raised in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Aside from writing books about the Civil War (this book is his third), he is a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park. 

In “You’ll Be Scared…” Cole discusses the stressors that added to soldiers’ emotional distress during the Civil War, including physical fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, conflict of values, and the clash between self-preservation and the obligations to duty and fellow soldiers. He also talks about how motivation, morale, discipline, and training helped them overcome their fears and operate on some of the most merciless battlefields in American military history. 


Through eyewitness accounts, observations, and firsthand experiences, Cole takes readers into the minds of the men who fought the 1861-1865 war as they denied their situations, accepted their fates, or just became acclimated to the constant stress and fear of a soldier in America’s most bloody war. It explores every fact of fear a soldier on the field might face, how the soldiers prepared for those facets and what their leaders could do to help. 

What’s most interesting is that Cole connects the past to soldiers on a modern battlefield. The technology and the kind of fighting might be different, but the fear is the same, as is the dedication to duty and to the soldier fighting next to them. Anyone with a love of military history will appreciate this fascinating new perspective into the psyche of Civil War troops and may be able to read about their favorite battles and war stories in an entirely new way. 

“You’ll Be Scared. Sure—You’ll Be Scared—Fear, Stress, and Coping in the Civil War” by Philip M. Cole is available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and elsewhere as an ebook and in paperback, starting at $5.99. 

Read About Other Book Reviews

If you enjoyed reading the review of ‘You’ll Be Scared – Sure You’ll Be Scared’ by Philip Cole, we invite you to read about other military book reviews on our blog. You will also find profiles in courage, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: Amazon, Barnes & Nobl, Civil War, famous military units, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Profiles in Courage, U.S. Navy veteran, veterans’ service reflections


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