The Union soldier was typically a man in his early 20s, in most cases, he was a farmer who had either enlisted to fight a war which he thought wouldn’t last more than a few months, or near the peak of the Civil War, someone who had been drafted. Those who were called to serve against their own will were often poor, since anyone who could pay the sum of $300.00 would be exempt from fighting. Still, many of the Union soldiers had ideals to uphold, and all of them were more than well equipped to do so, as opposed to their southern enemies. As the war progressed, even women joined the fight, dressing up as, and pretending to be men so that they could join the army.
Union soldiers’ uniforms were dark blue and made of thick wool. Their only relief from the hot and uncomfortable outfit was most often a cotton shirt sent to them by their families, as their army issued shirts were also made of wool. Why all that wool? The reason was that wool would not take in water, or remain wet like cotton in the event of rain, and it was also more durable. Union soldiers also wore woolen caps which had leather visors to provide shade when aiming in the blazing sun. Union soldiers not only had better uniforms, they also had better weapons, British made Enfield rifles were the norm, and they were the most accurate weapons on the battlefield.
In addition to heavy clothes, Union soldiers carried a heavy knapsack, a blanket, and a small protective cover called “dog tent”. Like the Confederates, Union soldiers carried a haversack filled with the usual set of eating implements, the canteen and frying pan being the most important. Unlike the southern Rebels, the Federals were required to groom themselves, and maintain a proper appearance, therefore their kit also included a comb, a razor, and other personal hygiene products.
Union Infantrymen wore belts on which there were cartridge boxes to carry multiple rounds of ammunition, a pouch to carry “percussion caps”; a17th Century equivalent of the hand grenade, and a scabbard which held their bayonets. Union Cavalrymen had similar accoutrements, but their belts included a pistol holster, and a special straps to hold their sabers.
While the Union troops were well fed, many died from ptomaine poisoning, the result of eating poorly canned meat and other tainted food items. Morale was generally high amongst the Federal troops, but desertion was a serious issue since many soldiers which had left their homes in the hopes of fighting a short war, would eventually feel the need to return to their families and farms. Since many of them had been drafted, they did not want to be where they were in the first place. Those who deserted for cowardice were mostly drummed out of cam with a sign around their neck that read “coward”, while others hung or executed by firing squad for more serious offences such as treason. Other, less draconian methods of discipline included tying a soldier to a large wheel for hours on end, and imprisonment.
There exist many photographs of the Union forces, as their army had greater funding. While they did win the war, it was not an easy battle, and many lost their lives, not to mention the thousands who returned home as amputees. It is also interesting to note that many freed slaves became fighters for the Union, no doubt motivated by Lincoln’s attitude towards human rights. He is after all, remembered as the “Great Emancipator”.
An other view of Union Soldiers
The Civil War was a conflict that dived a nation threatening to split a country in two. The Southern States of the United States and America were eager to separate from the “Union” and found their own country known as: “ The Confederate States of America” Jefferson Davis was elected president of the C.SA. He would help lead the Confederacy in their will to succeed or separate from the United States of America, which of course was lead by President Abraham Lincoln.
The Southern States knew that their succession from the Union would not be easy and it most likely would result in a bloody conflict. This Bloody conflict would be known as the Civil War, a war that would ravage a nation from 1861-1865.The Army up north or Union Army was dispatched to prevent succession through armed conflict.
When the war broke out in 1861, the they had 16,000 union soldiers and officers. Many of the Southern Officers of the Union army resigned from Union Forces to serve as officers in the Confederacy. The most notable of which was General Robert E. Lee. Lee. Lee was one of the best leaders in the Union’s military, but believed in helping defend his beloved South, and home state of Virginia.
The Union Army was comprised U.S. Army consisted of ten regiments of infantry, four of artillery, two of cavalry , two of dragoons , and one Calvary.
Union Soldiers Uniforms
The Union Soldiers were identified by their iconic blue uniforms, thus earning their nickname of “The Blue Coats.” The typical Union Soldier uniform consisted of a Blue “Sack Coat” with traditional brass buttons. In addition to the coat the soldiers wore light blue trousers. One of the most recognizable features of a Union Soldier was the blue “Forage Cap.” Every soldier was issued one of these caps and they were worn usually for “fatigue duty.” (Everyday chores and tasks.)
The typical small arms issued to Union soldiers were a very basic muzzle-loading musket. Riffled barrels replaced the smooth bored barrel of the muskets, and improved the accuracy.
Swords were also widely used by the both armies during the war. Officers used swords to signal commands and Calvary soldiers were trained in skilled sword combat. The Cavalrymen used the swords with devastating effectiveness, as they killed with a swift and deadly manner.
One of the strengths of the Union Army was a strong naval presence. In the war of 1812, America was without a Navy, so they resorted to, hiring pirates to help wage war against one of the most powerful forces in the world; The British Navy.
Although the United States defeated the British in this conflict using just a “Mercenary Navy” the need for a strong Navy remained. At the start of the Civil War, the Union had 42 ships ready for battle with 48 more in reserve. Much of the Navy was deployed to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the South to create a blockade in the “Anaconda Plan”.
The Anaconda plan was a strategy devised to prevent Southern ports from receiving re-enforcements, food and supplies. This plan devastated the South and eventually caused the Confederacy to fall apart due to a lack of supplies and troops.
Perhaps the most iconic and famous boat of the Union’s Navy was the USS Monitor. The USS Monitor was an ironclad warship, and the first of its kind in the Union Navy.The Monitor is mostly known for her pivotal role in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9th, 1862. In this battle the Monitor squared off against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. The Virginia was dispatched to break up the Union Blockade in front of the James River. The CSS Virginia had managed to destroy several Union ships before the Monitor arrived. The Monitor managed to win the duel hitting the Confederate ship 90 times. The Union’s Navy would be a huge force for the duration of the war.
The first strategy was to invade the Confederacy and destroy its will to resist. The Union did this by invading the South and wreaking havoc by racking up high numbers of Southern soldier casualties and destroying major Southern Towns and cities.
The second strategy was the task of gaining the loyalty of the “Border States” which are :
- West Virginia
The third strategy was to ; Construct and maintain a naval blockade of 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline. As discussed in the Naval section, the Union was adamant about blockading the vast coastline of the South. The South depended on their ports to receive vital supplies such as food, clothing and ammunition. The “Anaconda Plan” several crippled the South, thus ending the war, due to the South being vastly under supplied.
Finally, 4th strategy was to Prevent European powers especially Great Britain and France from extending recognition of and giving assistance to the Confederacy. This was also vital because it could change the tone of the war. During the revolution, the Americans defeated the British much to the help of the French. President Lincoln was paranoid that a European country could ally with the South and change the war entirely. Luckily this never happened.
As a whole, the Union Army was vastly more disciplined and well trained. They used precise tactics and strategy to defeat the Southern style of “Gorilla Warfare.”
Although the South did win a few battles, the North kept poised and disciplined and defeated the South, thus preventing succession.