Life of a Soldier during the Civil War

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The life of a soldier when not fighting was mostly spent drilling on battle techniques and strategies. The rest of the time was trying to overcome boredom. With limited communications, considerable time was spent between battles planning and regrouping. Days would be spent making meals, doing laundry, cutting firewood and writing letters to home. Horse racing, gambling and games such as cards and dominoes helped to relieve the boredom. Soldiers would also sing songs and tell stories around campfires.

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Military Drilling
Drill Practice
(Source: Library of Congress)
The North and South quickly learned that the war would not be won with men who didn't know how to fight. Drilling on battle techniques and strategies became a major camp activity between battles. This picture shows the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry in a parade formation.
Drum Corp
Drum and Bugle Corp
(Source: Library of Congress)
Drum and bugle corps also played an important role during the war by beating out calls to charge or retreat. Here the drum corps of the 93d New York Infantry play in Bealeton, Virginia.


Relieving Boredom

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Playing Dominoes
(Source: Library of Congress)
Soldiers spent a lot of their time sitting in camps waiting for orders. Even once orders have been received, they may spent a lot of time in camp preparing for an upcoming battle. Soldiers would therefore get very bored. With limited communications, soldiers may wait a long time between battles for planning and regrouping.

Dominoes was a popular game for relieving the boredom. Here at Comp Winfield Scott in Yorktown, Virginia, soldiers are playing dominoes at the mess table.

Civil war life
Playing Cards
(Source: Library of Congress)
Playing cards was also a popular was of passing time. Here officers of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry are playing cards in front of their tents.
Civil War Games
Chess game, dice and cards from the Civil War.


Books on the Civil War

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  Books on the Civil War


Links to other sites on the Civil War

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For a daily history lesson see AccentHistory.net http://www.accenthistory.net
American Civil War http://www.civilwar.com/
Civil War http://www.civil-war.net/
The Civil War on PBS http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/

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