How the Civil War Soldiers Lived
The Union and Confederate armies were haphazardly raised, badly organized, poorly trained, inadequately fed, clothed and housed, and almost wholly without comforts, sports, entertainments or proper medical care. Whether a regiment was well or badly trained, disciplined, and cared for depended largely on its officers, and to some extent on the initiative and enterprise of the men themselves. Regiments camped where they could, foraged for fuel and often for food, and depended on their own resources, on the sutlers, and on friends and relatives, for amusement and for luxuries. The Civil War armies were youthful, high-spirited, sentimental, and for the most part moral. They endured what seem to us wholly unnecessary hardships--heavy woolen clothing in the summertime, for example, or leaky tents or maggoty food--but they managed to enjoy themselves, indulged in rough sports and horseplay, fixed up their winter quarters with "all the comforts of home," sang romantic songs, enjoyed religious services and revivals, and generally acted like civilians on a picnic--when the enemy permitted!
Most of these items tell their own story; few need explanatory introductions. The first 11 describe various aspects of camp life--clothing, housing, marching, work and play. The others deal more specifically with the everlasting problem of food, with religion, politics, red tape, corruption, and morale. Some of them are by men who for one reason or another distinguished themselves--in soldiering, in literature, in politics--or merely by writing a memorable memoir. Others are by men whom it has not been possible to rescue from obscurity. The notes will serve as introductions to the writers rather than to the subjects--which explain themselves.
The source of the following articles is "The Blue and The Gray" by Henry Steele Commager. His source is provided at the end of each article.
This Page last updated 02/10/02
A Typical Day At Camp Cameron Daily Life at Camp Millington A Portrait of a Private in the Army of the Potomac Life with the Thirteenth Massachusetts Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia (Part 1) Getting a Haircut in the Army Inventions and Gadgets used by Civil War Soldiers Shoemaking and Tailoring in Civil War Winter Quarters How the Civil War Soldiers Marched Hardtack and Coffee Starvation, Rags, Dirt, and Vermin Voting in the Field Red Tape, North and South The Confederates Get Religion