Military Life During the Civil War
Military life during the Civil War was no easy task for both Union and Confederate forces. Thousands of soldiers left their homes for many months, living in tiny tents and fighting in bloody battles. Many faced disease, starvation, and death while in camps and on the battlefield. Soldiers went through these tremendous challenges and gave up many luxuries just to fight for their cause.
Camps in both the North and the South were laid out uniformly. Army regulations called for camps to be set out in a grid-like pattern with the officers' quarters at the front and the soldiers' quarters near the end; similar to the lines of battle. Most camps had their own medical cabin, baggage train, and mess tents which was where the soldiers ate. Soldiers' tents were created out of canvas and were very cramped. They provided little protection from rough weather and were commonly damp. The tents were called dog tents by the soldiers because the men would say, 'only a dog would go under it to stay dry from the rain'.
The military camps on both sides were regularly reported as filthy and unsanitary. Smells from the latrines and garbage were evident all throughout the area. Soldiers, who sometimes went weeks without bathing, were infested with fleas and lice. Widespread sickness was common because people failed to realize that germs caused diseases. At the end of the war, it was found that the majority of the casualties were caused by diseases.
On the other hand, food in camp was usually plentiful. Meat such as beef, chicken, and pork was served to the soldiers most every day. Flour was readily available as well. Even fruit and vegetables were provided along with coffee, salt, and sugar. Clean water was scarce, however, and led to many diseases throughout the camps. Union soldiers were often given better quality foods because of an abundance of railroads and trains. Confederate forces were often forced to take donations or steal food from...
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