Civil War soldiers did not have it easy. In the beginning of the war things weren’t so bad but as the war went from weeks to months to years, army life became increasingly difficult. Union and Confederate soldiers pretty much lived in the same conditions during the war although Union troops were much better supplied and equipped.
If you had a pulse and a trigger finger you were qualified to be a soldier. The life of a soldier for both the North and South was a rough one and they lived under strict discipline. Enlisted troops were seen as bodies by their governments that pulled triggers, and that’s pretty much how they lived.
These soldiers were not just bodies however they were real people who had real lives. For these men fighting in a war at the front meant many long months and years away from home. The only contact most soldiers ever had with their loved ones back home was the occasional leave or if they received letters.
Union soldiers diary with a bullet hole top right
Letters were prized possessions that were read and re-read many times. Receiving mail was one of the most joyous times in a soldier’s life because in a way it allowed them to go home even if only for a moment. One important thing that gave soldiers comfort in their times of need was religion.
They could always count on a chaplain to listen to their problems and offer comfort when they needed it. Soldier life was boredom, hunger, sickness, and survival. To help with their downtime soldiers often played Civil War games such as cards, checkers, baseball or anything else they could think of.
Boredom was a soldier’s ever-present companion. Soldiers had to endure very long hours of drill on a daily basis, bad food, diseases that spread through camp, and living in Civil War tents which made pretty inadequate shelters.
They also had to do menial tasks such as gathering wood for campfires and cooking fires had to serve on guard duty for many long hours, had to be on water detail and many other chores that were required to survive in camp.
And when they weren’t just trying to survive in camp they were trying to survive on the battlefield. When boredom wasn’t around absolute terror was right there to take its place.
Civil War soldiers did not have it easy but when their country needed them they answered the call.