I see many parallels between the US Civil War and World War I in terms of the idea of war versus the actuality of a total war. In both cases, the vast majority of all parties involved saw the war as something that would be violent but quick, and swift and final. No one could have predicted how complex the war would become.
....or could they? Consider some of the problems that both the Union and the Confederacy faced when mobilizing for the early stages of war. How prepared were they for actual conflict? Consider the myth and actuality of First Bull Run--why was it anticipated as a sporting event but then experienced as a bloodbath?