Murphy 2014 Rape

Title Information

Author: Kim Murphy

Title: I Had Rather Die

Subtitle: Rape in the Civil War

Place: Batesville, VA

Publisher: Coachlight Press

Year: 2014

Pages: 180pp.

ISBN-13: 9781936785162 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781936785155 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | U.S. History | Types: Wartime Rape / American Civil War

Full Text

Link: Amazon (Limited Preview)

Additional Information

Author: Author's Personal Website


  Acknowledgments (p. vi)
  Introduction: "A Low-Rape War" (p. 1)
  1 "An Accusation Easily to Be Made"
    Rape Laws in Early America (p. 11)
    Rape Laws in the Nineteenth Century (p. 14)
  2 "Fate Worse than Death"
    Rape Laws for Nonwhites (p. 21)
    Rape During War (p. 27)
  3 "So Much For a Dreadful Outrage"
    An Overview of Rape in the Civil War (p. 31)
  4 "She Made All the Resistance in Her Power"
    Black Soldiers Who Received the Death Penalty (p. 44)
  5 "I Had Rather Die"
    White Soldiers Who Received the Death Penalty (p. 51)
  6 "I Did Not Give My Consent"
    Black Victims (p. 63)
  7 "I Was Afraid They Would Kill Me"
    White Victims (p. 87)
  8 "I Was Near About Dead"
    Gang Rape (p. 110)
  9 "He Did It Against My Will"
    Confederate Rapists (p. 120)
  Conclusion: "He Said He Would Blow Me to Pieces" (p. 128)
  Notes (p. 131)
  Bibliography (p. 147)
  Index (p. 162)


»The American Civil War is often regarded as a "low-rape" war, due to gentlemanly "restraint." Nearly thirty Union soldiers were executed for the crime. As a result, rape is perceived to have been dealt with harshly. On the surface, the numbers reflect the view that rape was indeed far from widespread. In reality, few soldiers received harsh punishment for a crime considered a capital offense in the nineteenth century.
I Had Rather Die is the first book dedicated to the topic of rape during the war. Through newspapers, Official Records, diaries, letters, and court-martial documents, Kim Murphy exposes the misrepresentations about the topic of rape during the war. Not only were women raped during times of battle, but those who bravely stepped forward to name their attackers were interrogated in the justice system, often by their assailants. Courts-martial revolved around a woman's consent and her degree of resistance against a man's force. Poor and black women frequently had their reputations called into question. For far too long, women's claims have been dismissed as hearsay and propaganda. Behind the brother-against-brother war lurks the hidden war of brother against sister.« [Source: Coachlight Press]

Reviews:Mammina, Laura. »Exploding the Myth of the Low-Rape War.« H-CivWar (December 2014). – Full Text: H-Net Reviews (Free Access)

Wikipedia: Wartime sexual violence: American Civil War, Sex in the American Civil War

Added: March 29, 2014 – Last updated: December 20, 2014