Civil War Soldier

Welcome to Civil War Soldier


The Soldiers

What was the average day like for a soldier in the Civil War? What weapons did they carry? Where did they come from? This is merely a rough overview - more detailed information is available on the dedicated pages.

Background

A soldier's life was difficult during the American Civil War, being away from home for multiple months, the tough training sessions, the lack of good food, warm bed, and a roof above your head. For many being a soldier wasn't much of a choice, they joined due to financial necessity. You had to be physically strong to carry around supplies, and be able to fulfill your duty as soldier. And in between battles the times spend in camp were less than thrilling. Add to that the complete difference in culture and hierarchy; many soldiers were farmers before they joined - they really had to get used to taking orders.

A Union or Confederate soldier's uniform wasn't very impressive. A uniform was usually a simple outfit. There were differences between the Union and Confederate uniform, we will look at those in more detail on a dedicated page on this site.

Besides the regular training exercises there were many chores that had to be taken care of every day. Wood had to be gathered, fires made, and there were plenty of metal fittings in need of some good polishing. The horses needed feeding, and a steady supply of water was required to keep the soldiers hydrated. Guard duty was often a boring task, spending long hours walking back and forth, or manning guard towers.

The average soldier carried an American or British-made rifled musket. The bayonet played an important role, not least to frighten opposing forces. The bullets were particularly gruesome, they were made of soft lead, and they caused severe wounds.

The age of an average soldier was 26, with an average height of 5 feet and 8 inches (173 cm). As mentioned above the majority were probably farmers before they joined. The North lost more than 360,000 soldiers, in battle and due to disease. 260,000 soldiers were lost by the South, again, due to disease and battle deaths.

As the war reached its end stages it is estimated that about 10 percent of the Union army consisted of African American soldiers. The Confederate congress voted to authorize recruiting up to 300,000 black troops - but the action came too late for the South.


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