The Daily Life in a Civil War Camp

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Officers in the field lived much better than enlisted men. They generally assigned one or two officers to a tent. Since they provided their own personal gear, items varied greatly and reflected individual taste. Each junior officer was allowed one trunk of personal belongings that was carried in one of the baggage wagons. Higher-ranking officers were allowed more baggage. Unlike infantrymen, who slept and sat on whatever nature provided, officers sometimes had the luxury of furniture. Enlisted men, unlike their officers, had to carry all their belongings on their back. On long marches men were unwilling to carry more than the absolute essentials. Even so, soldiers ended up carrying about 30 to 40 pounds. Each soldier was issued half of a tent. It was designed to join with another soldier's half to make a full size tent. The odd man lost out. When suitable wooden poles were not available for tent supports, soldiers would sometimes use their weapons. Soldiers endured the daily round of roll calls, meals, drills, inspections, and fatigue duties. Throughout this tedious and seemingly endless routine, it was often the personal necessities sent or brought from home, or purchased from sutlers (licensed provisioners to the army) that made camp life tolerable. Many of these items were used for personal hygiene, grooming, and keeping uniforms in repair. Today these diminutive legacies provide us with a very personal and tangible connection to the soldiers of the Civil War. Confederate and Union soldiers added various clothing and equipment to their military issue . To make their life more tolerable, they brought various personal items to camp or were given them by family and friends. Few soldiers owned all the items in this exhibit, although most had at least some of them. A variety of personal items were used by Civil War soldiers. Confederate and Union soldiers often wore civilian-style underwear that they provided themselves. Officers and wealthy individuals...
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