A Soldiers Life In The Civil War

  • Category: History
  • Words: 1355
  • Grade: 84
History: American:
A Soldiers Life in the Civil War


        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, 49)." 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, 11). 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. Outline 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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