Life of a Soldier during the Civil War

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 bordom. 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 bordom. Soldiers would also sing songs and tell stories around campfires.

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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 (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 (Source: Library of Congress).


Relieving Bordom

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With limited communications, soldiers waiting a long time between battles for planning and regrouping.

Dominoes was a popular game for relieving the bordom. Here at Comp Winfield Scott in Yorktown, Virginia, soldiers are playing dominoes at the mess table (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 (Source: Library of Congress).
Chess game, dice and cards from the Civil War.

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