A Soldiers Life In The Civil War

Essay, Research Paper

Life during the Civil War was not a pleasant time. There was

basically utter chaos going on the South. Soldiers had to deal with the

harsh conditions and the thought of death. Plantation owners had to

worry about who was going to work their fields. Business owners had to

worry about who was going to buy their products. Citizens had to worry

about soldiers destroying their property. And the government had to

worry about how to pay the soldiers and how to end the war. This was a

very rough time to be alive.

Soldier Life During The Civil War

The camp life for a soldier was hardly one to be desired. ?The

weather was hot and the water was bad, yet the men kept in good spirits,

and there was no grumbling at the hard drill and harder work(Ratchford,

11).? The weather varied a lot during the Civil War. At times it would

snow up to depths of eight inches and sometimes it would rain and hail for

hours on end(Russell, 130). Other times it would be very hot. Sometimes

when it would rain, soldiers would wake up half submerged(Brown,122).

Death was also a major fear during the Civil War. ?We cook and

eat, talk and laugh with the enemies dead lying all about us as though

they were so many logs(Brown, 115).? The soldier would march threw

battlefields where dead men, horses, and smashed artillery were scattered

about in utter confusion; the Blue and the Gray mixed-their bodies so

bloated, distorted, and discolored from decomposition, that they were

basically unrecognizable(Mohr, 326).

There was also the duties of the officers. ?Often when a detachment

was on scout, there were no men left in camp to release the pickets, and

they had to remain on post for seventy-two hours at a stretch(History of

the Service, 129).? Marching, shooting, charging, scouting; they were all

hard assignments, but they were important to the war. There were times

when troops had to charge for ten miles to get to towns to protect

them(Mohr, 326). Troops often woke up before daylight to march and

sometimes they would just march right back to where they started(Brown,

120). There were also times when troops would march a couple of

hundred yards and end up marching back the next day. It sounds as

though there was a lot of unnecessary marching.

There was also a lot of unnecessary shooting. There would be picket

lines shooting all day every day and the occasional canon shot(Brown,

118). Sometimes there would be picket firing going on into the

night(Mohr, 324). ?Shelling don?t scare us as it used to and if they pass us

before they burst there is no danger in them. All they do is to make men

bow their heads as it passes over(Brown, 116).?

Food is essential in every day life, and it is very difficult to live

without. ?Little chance to feed and eat(Mohr, 324).? Food was not always

very abundant during the civil war. Food was sometimes stolen from

citizens or even from the enemy.

?I took 30 men today and went on a scout to the left of our

Army, to drive in some cattle near the Yanks picket lines-I

went about seven or eight miles-found the cattle in a large

field and succeeded in getting 20 head of them, and some of

them I got within 200 yards of the Yanks vidette line. Brought

the cattle all in and got back just before night- making a

complete success of the trip and got no one hurt(Brown, 123).?

There were also times when enemy?s would trade goods. There would be

Rebels on one side of a river and Union troops on the other side and they

would arrange to meet and trade newspapers, salts, coffee, and

tobacco(History of the Service, 129).

Medical help was a problem if you got hurt. The basic treatment for

a gun shot wound was to let it heal on it?s own or cut of the part that got

shot. It was very unlikely to live after being shot. ?A finger or two were

removed, the broken bones were adjusted, and the patient rallied in good

spirits from the second administration of chloroform and shock to the

system(Camp Life, 76).?

Pay for soldiers was also not the greatest thing in the world. The

government tried to pay the soldiers ten dollars a month instead of their

thirteen dollars a month(Adams, 48). But when the paymaster asked who

would take their ten now and get the three later, none of the soldiers

agreed(Adams, 48).

?Too many of our comrades? bones lie bleaching near the

walls of Fort Wagner to subtract even one cent from our hard

earned pay. If the nation can ill afford to pay us, we are men

and will do our duty while we are here without a murmur, as

we have done always, before and since that day we were

offered to sell our manhood for ten dollars per month(Adams,


I think that I would want to pay some more than ten dollars a month for

defending my country.

Government and Citizens During The Civil War

During the war, the governments had many modifications and

additions to their legislature. The Confederate Congress decided to next

meet in Richmond, which is where they made their new capital(Russell,

133). The Confederate Congress also passed an act stating that persons in

debt to the United States, to pay their amount of their debt to the

Confederate Treasury(Russell, 130). The United States marshals seized all

of the telegraphic dispatches during a years time(Russell, 131). The

Montgomery Congress passed a bill that ?binds volunteers to serve during

the war, unless sooner discharged(Russell, 133).? Kentucky?s governor

warned off both Federal and Confederate soldiers of his territory(Russell,

130). ?British subjects have been forcibly carried off to fill the ranks of

so-called volunteer companies and regiments(Russell, 137).?

The general population of the United States had a dramatic reaction

to the activities of the Civil War. ?It is impossible to describe the

excitement and rage of the people(Russell, 131).? The Richmond

Examiner described the United States Army as, ?the band of thieves.

robbers, and assassins, in the pay of Abraham Lincoln(Russell, 132).?

Charges of abolitionism appeared in police reports and persons were

found guilty ?not of expressing opinions against slavery, but of stating

their belief that the Northerners will be successful? are sent to prison for

six months; or they are tarred and feathered, their head shaven, or

deported(Russell, 134). Many municipal authorities threatened to close the

city schools and disband police; while at the same time, employers refused

to pay their workmen(Russell, 136). Most Negroes had fled their plantains

and would not go back except under government control(Private and

Official Correspondence, 33). It appears that the people of the United

States were falling into a depression due to their lack of ways to make

money or get paid. Most people over reacted to what was nothing

important at all.

While on the other hand, some civilians were getting there houses

burned down or property stolen from them. ?Marauding parties

continually overran the country, robbing, burning, and killing(Ratchford,


To me it sounds as though the life of a soldier during the Civil War

is not one that I would want to live. I would rather sit at my computer and

type a paper about it than actually leave through it. The soldiers and the

civilians alike, had it very rough. The conditions were harsh and the fear

of death would be the only thing on my mind. Or fear of having my house

burnt down or taken from me is something I would not want to

experience. In conclusion, I would be very proud to shake any soldiers

hand that fought in the Civil War.


I. Introduction

II. Life of a Soldier During the Civil War

A. Camp Life

B. Death

C. Duties

D. Shooting

E. Food

F. Medical

G. Pay

III. Government and Citizens During The Civil War

A. Government Reaction

B. Citizens Reaction

C. Citizens Vandalism

IV. Conclusion


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