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’