Reid Mitchell, in his book The Vacant Chair: The Northern Soldier Leaves Home (Oxford UP, 1993), gives an example of some of the contradictions of manhood:
Dye Davis, a soldier in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, liked to drink and brawl. James Wren, his captain, appealed to notions of manhood to domesticate Davis. After one drunk , Davis sobered up to find himself tied to a board. He requested that the captain come to him, but Wren put the soldier off. When Wren finally did visit Davis, he told him he would not release him from his humiliation: "You told me before that you would keep sober and be a man. There's no man in you." Davis's reply was not a denial of the charge or a promise to reform. Instead, he cried out, "O what would my Mary say if she saw me here?" That, when Wren approvingly noted, was when Davis "commenced to be a [man]." The captain seized the moment and used Davis's insecurity about his manhood. Wren told Davis, "What yould your Mary -- your Mary would be just like me. When she married you, she thought she had a man and when I enlisted [you] I thought I had a man, but we were both mistaken." Weeping, Davis now told the captain, "[I] will show you I will be a man." The captain judged Davis to have kept his promise -- he was wounded three times and killed at the Wilderness. "A braver and better soldier than Davis was not to be found in the service . . . but his Mary was the great coard [sic] to be touched." What Mary Davis thought of exploiting her husband's love for her to make him a better soldier can only be conjectured, but Wren was hardly being cynical--his definition of manhood encompassed loving husband and devoted soldier. (13, emphasis added)If self-control and self-mastery are all part of manliness and good soldiering, what shall we say about the relation between soldier and captain, here figured as a version of the relation between a soldier and his loving wife?