Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is usually associated with Veterans of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but it is not a new phenomenon. Historians find clear indications of its occurring even among the ancient Greeks. Battle fatigue, shell-shock, irritable heart -- only the names have changed, not the symptoms.
Johnny Grenville came home from the Civil War with easily recognizable symptoms--heavy drinking, hallucinations, nightmares, panic attacks, inability to concentrate, feelings that he no longer had anything in common with his family or neighbors. His wounds at Chickamauga, followed by being held as a prisoner of war and having his shattered leg amputated, had changed him forever.
For a while, as he learned to walk again, he seemed to be recovering, and he even spent some time working with other wounded soldiers, but the recovery could go only so far. What he seemed to need was a sense that there was still a place for him in a semi-military organization, and he found that purpose within some questionable organizations during the early period of Reconstruction.
Here he is in 1867, and the symptoms are clear. His eyes are haunted. His beard mimics the style worn by many Confederate officers during the war. He regards the world with suspicion -- even hatred. He throws his political support to Wade Hampton, the Confederate general in whose legion he had fought during the war. He thrives only in the companionship of others whose experiences echo his own. As riots, as well as other forms of civil disobedience, increase across South Carolina, Johnny seems to come alive again, but his family realizes, as he does not, that he is fighting for the "wrong side" again.