Soldier Life...something that has fascinated people for generations. It’s also something we civilians always wonder about and never quite understand. But today, I’m sharing some facts for those researching about the War Between the States, focusing on the Sergeant. (Click here for Episode 7!)
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on soldier or the War Between the States. But I have researched these topics extensively. My goal here is to give readers, writers and researchers the information I wish I had been able to find all in one place. Pulling from books and webpages takes time! To whoever finds this post helpful, this was written with you in mind!
Okay, so first, there are two different types of Sergeants. There are regular sergeants (the ranking one is called the First Sergeant) and the Sergeant Major, who is the top Non-Commission Officer (NCO; in other words, a guy who is in charge whom you do not salute.)
The duties of a regular sergeant are…
Most of the information I gathered was for the First Sergeant and the Sergeant Major, so I’ll expand a little on what they did to keep their part of the army running (the jobs were the same in the North and the South).
The First Sergeant was selected by the captain of the company from among the other sergeants. Then the commanding officer of the regiment would make his position official. Likewise, his commission could be revoked by the commanding officer. He is the main guy supervising the entire company (100 men!). The Captain gives him his orders and he sees that they are carried out by himself and the other sergeants. Think of him as the foreman on a worksite.
The First Sergeant is the one who keeps the rosters, lists of the men serving in his company, noting who is where during the day and night. He was expected to memorize the names in alphabetical order, so that he could call the roll at any hour. I’m sure once campaigning began, that got confusing, with men being killed, captured and reported missing. Not only did he need to know everyone’s name, but he also needed to know what they looked and sounded like and where they were supposed to be in the camp line up. This is because soldiers would sometimes answer for their buddies who were away from drill without permission.
When Roll Call is made, the First Sergeant lists the absentees to the officer overseeing the roll call. All the other NCO’s are responsible to him, making sure that their work is done correctly and that the paperwork is filed. He is also allowed to arrest soldiers and NCO’s, while reporting any action like this to the Captain, along with the details of the situation. He is also the one who oversees the guard details. (See my post on Corporals for more details)
Just as the Corporal of the Guard is the most important job for a corporal, the most important duty for a first sergeant is issuing and keeping records of supplies: weapons and ammunition, uniforms, camp supplies, etc. He also has to keep record of who received what and when, and if anything is misplaced, he has to find out if it was stolen, sold or if it was an innocent mistake. He was also responsible for issuing rations to the men, and overseeing the company funds.
The sergeant is responsible for the actions of the company, to set a good example for him. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a man with a good temper and a strong sense of justice. He’s not supposed to be close friends with the men under him, but he should be the kind they can come to with anything on their minds without fear of talking out of turn. He’s the buffer between the men and the officers.
Now, the Sergeant Major, as I said, is the ranking NCO of the regiment. Here is one of the differences between the first sergeant and the sergeant major: one is regimental, the other is company oriented. The sergeant major is appointed by the regimental commander and there is one sergeant major in every regiment. (There are ten First Sergeants in a regiment, because there are ten companies.)
The Sergeant Major pretty much does what a First Sergeant does, only on a larger scale. His roster is of the NCOs (Sergeants and corporals) and he must also keep the time in camp. That means waking up the musicians in time to sound Reveille at the proper hour in the morning.
The First Sergeant turns the morning reports in to the Sergeant Major, who in turn gives them back to the sergeant, along with the orders for the day. He instructs them in details that will be expected of them the next day and copies the orders into the “Company Order-Book.”
He will also attend the Mounting of the Guard, with the First Sergeants reporting to him that everything is in order. He is the NCO all the lower-ranking NCOs look up to, so it is expected for him to act as the model soldier in the way he dresses and carries himself. He should be punctual and disciplined. When promotions come along, if he has carried out his duties correctly, he will be the first NCO to get an officer’s commission. Then, a first sergeant will take his place.
That’s all I have for today. Have a blessed week!
Hello everyone! This past month was amazing! We were able to attend several special services, I celebrated my birthday, Memorial Day rolled around (my favorite holiday!) and the North Carolina Home Educators Book Fair closed out the month for us! Today, I’m gonna share some of my favorites from my favorite month of the year!
My May Favorites…
Event: Born Alive Survivor Protection Act Rally. This was my very first Pro-Life event and our family thoroughly enjoyed it! We were able to give our loads of FBN information (we gave some to our Lt. Governor, Dan Forrest!!!). It was wonderful to gather with hundreds of people from around the state of various ages and background, all to support the lives of our smallest, most vulnerable citizens. Currently, North Carolina Representatives are trying to pass a veto override to protect our unborn, but we have to wait until certain voters change their mind or decide not to show up for the vote. I thank God we have a Representative who is willing to hold out until we have the votes we need to protect our babies!
Song: Jesus Saves, as sung by Caleb and Katie Garraway. It’s so beautiful!
Verse: Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12
I’m reading through the minor prophets now and this verse jumped out at me on May 20th. It’s time to seek the Lord in our country in the day and age that we live in. And we all know that is change is to come to our country, it’s got to start with us, the Children of God!
Book of the Month: Lincoln Unmasked by Thomas DiLorenzo! 5 stars! It was sooooo good, y’all! One of the best nonfictions I have read this year! (Review coming soon!)
Ministry: The God Bless America Rally in Canton Ohio! Yes, I added another states to my growing list of states visited! 13! The meeting was wonderful as always and we were blessed to see over 200 saved during the door-knocking and services! Them we got to have Evangelist Byron Foxx with us on the way to services in Kentucky! So yes, that was my top ministry even for this month!
Writing Update: We are in the team edit stage! We are hoping to make some good progress in June, so stay tuned for that! Once we start meeting, rewrite get intense and wonderful and I love it!
A Book I am Anticipating for June: I Varina by Ruth Painter Randall! It’s the story of Varina Davis, First Lady of the Confederacy! I finally got this book this year after searching for it for years! So yes, this is a much anticipated read! I also have a few books that I’m waiting on from my library about D-Day, so I’m looking forward to that!
I’ll give you a quick recap on my anticipated reads for May. I am still reading Unbroken, but so far, I love it! There have been a few edits needed, and I anticipate that increasing as I get into the war, but so far, I really like it! Number the Stars wasn’t my favorite book on WWII, but it wasn’t bad either. I have a review coming soon, so watch for that for more details. And y’all. I finished The Hiding Place! At last! After being urged by friends and a few reading slumps, I finally finished that book! Review to come on that one as well!
And Now for your Story Prompts!
June Edition: Summer is here! Write about your favorite summer activity, but with a twist. Set the scene in 1932, during the Great Depression and make sure you include a train, a hobo and your favorite summer treat!
D-Day Edition: I shouldn’t be here! He thought desperately as the landing craft carried them closer and closer to the battle. I should have listened to Mama and waited until I was older to go! The 17-year-old soldier gritted his teeth as the craft ground to a stop, just shy of the French beach called Omaha. Lord, please let me live through this!
Father’s Day Edition: The young German soldier’s breath came in ragged gasps, frightening his little boy. The American medic gently pulled the toddler from his father’s arms and handed him to the private kneeling next to them. The boy whimpered, “You not hurt my daddy!” The medic smiled as the American private said, “He won’t. He’s going to make your daddy feel all better. Then, we’ll take you both somewhere safe.” The medic sighed. Judging by the looks of the exhausted prisoner, a prison camp would be an improvement indeed!
Until Next Time,
PS (Sorry there are no graphics for the story prompts! This week has been crazy, lol!)
Hello everyone! A few months ago, I did a post called Fact or Fiction//Which is More Important? Today, I want to turn this into an official Writing Series called Fact or Fiction? It will cover writing myths and history myths. Today, I’m going to tackle five common misconceptions about The War Between the States that I see popping up in most fiction books on the topic. Hope you enjoy!
Myth #1: All Southerners owned slaves/supported slavery.
This is not true and it makes me want to laugh every time I see this pop up. While a book may not come right out and say this, it’s insinuated in popular fiction that all Southerners own slavery. My ancestors are proof this is untrue. In fact, studies show that only about 25% of the Southern population in 1860 owned slaves. (For more statistics on this study, read The South Was Right! and Lincoln Unmasked)
And all southerners did not support slavery, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are prime examples of Southerners who hated the institution. And I’d also like to point out that the Underground Railroad couldn’t have existed without Southern abolitionists. Let’s say you are helping a slave form Florida escape to Canada. You cannot magically jump over the slave holding states (which included Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Ohio, to name a few). You must come through several of these states to get to Canada. You must have food and shelter to make a trip (on foot or hiding in a wagon), and it’s dangerous. There is no way they could have gotten to Canada without help. North Carolina was one of the most active states in the Underground Railroad. So it is ludicrous to assume all southerners were at least supportive of slavery.
Myth #2: Southern soldiers, on average, could not read.
While both the Union and Confederate States had a large population of illiterate people, it’s silly to write a story where none of the Confederates know how to read. It’s insulting. If I’m not mistaken, The South Was Right! covers this claim as well. I read one study that showed that most Southern soldiers could read to some extent. Christ in the Camp makes this fact clear in the large amounts of tracts, pamphlets, books and Bibles they gave to eager southern soldiers. So, while it’s fine to have a grown soldier here and there who can’t read, or one who can’t read well, it’s way over used. Drummers are another matter, as there were a lot of street kids or orphans who had never been to school filling those spots.
Myth #3: The South fought to preserve slavery.
I am fighting not to roll my eyes at this one. It is in almost every book you read about the War Between the States and it is the biggest fallacy of them all. I’ll give you the nut shell of why the South fought, but if you want to read more on this topic, see these posts (Here, here, here and here.) The south would not have fought to preserve slavery. That would have been ridiculous. No woman in her right mind would send her man to war just so she could force another person to work for her. (Okay, so the women didn't literally send their men off to war, but you know what I mean, lol!) That’s insane. The reason the South fought the War Between the States is because their states’ rights were being taken away from them. The government passed taxes that hurt the south to aide the north. I’m not being biased, I’m stating facts. The government had enlarged it’s self past it’s Constitutional boundaries and had made it quite clear that it didn’t care who they had to step on to grab more power…sound familiar? Seems like there was a man named Kind George III who had that same ambition. I don’t care what side you take on the war in your novel. But I do care if it’s historically inaccurate. Even if you choose to ignore these facts, don’t have your southern antagonist citing slavery as his reason to fight. Read what the southern soldiers said they were fighting for. Slavery will not be one of their reasons.
Myth #4: The Emancipation Proclamation freed the Slaves.
Another common misconception, and it mostly stems from the fact that most people have never actually read the proclamation. I strongly encourage you to read it and not just take someone else’s word for it, no matter what angle they take on it, myself included. But basically, the EP was written to keep England and France, who had already outlawed slavery in their countries, from aiding the Confederacy and recognizing us as a nation. In the latter end, they succeeded, but the British and French did help us monetarily and materially, though not to the capacity they would have if not for the EP. The EP states that all slaves held in the seceded states are free, except those who lived in Union held territory. The hypocrisy here is that those are the only slaves he had the power to free, since they were in territory he had conquered. So where is their right to freedom from the “Champion of Abolition?” The shocking truth is that he didn’t care about the ones he could actually help; he just wanted to look good to Europe. He had no jurisdiction over the seceded states as a whole, since they were a separate country, so his proclamation did absolutely nothing. Also, he said, if the states would rejoin the Union by January 1st of 1863, they could keep their slaves. If the war was over slavery, every single state would have jumped at the chance to be back in their beloved former country. But not one took him up on the offer, proving not only that the South was not fighting to keep their slaves, but also that the Union was not fighting to free them.
Myth #5: All the Southern women wore hoop skirts.
I had to slip a fun one in here! 😉 So, yeah, this one’s not true either! Hoop skirts were very impractical for daily life in the south. They are bulky and let’s be honest, you can’t tend your garden like that, lol! The majority of southern woman were middle class and did the cooking, cleaning, gardening and often times helped in the fields as well. If she owned a hoop skirt, she would have worn it to church, weddings and socials. If I had lived during this time, I probably wouldn’t have even owned one. In my books, my main girl character Dixie is from a middle-class cotton plantation family. And she doesn’t own a hoop skirt. Why? Because she lives in the country. There is no where for her to wear one too. In fact, when up in Philadelphia for Christmas, she must borrow one from her cousins for a social. This wasn’t uncommon. Not everyone lived in Raleigh, Richmond and Atlanta. That’s what most people think of when they imagine life in the Antebellum South. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, lol!
So that’s it for this first post on Fact or Fiction! I hope you enjoyed it!
Have a blessed day!
Hello friends! Welcome back to another 10 Totally Random Facts post! In Honor of My dear Stonewall Jackson’s final victory, this month we are looking at 10 Totally Random Facts about the Battle of Chancellorsville. *sobs* Let’s see if I can get through this…
And now…an excerpt from “The Rivers of Sorrow”!!!
From Chapter 8: A Place Called Chancellorsville
“No talking whatsoever, don’t load your rifles and if you straggle, you’re getting a bayonet prod! Got it?”
“Yes, sir.” Richard was convinced his soldiers weren’t going to give him any problems. Seth glanced over his squad and was pleased to see them moving briskly, preparing to march.
The gray mist of dawn hung in the air. Seth shivered, partly from the cool morning, partly from anticipation of battle. Maybe they would whip the Yankees for good this time!
Richard trotted past his brother. “32:7-8!” he called to Seth. Seth saluted and grinned at his older brother. The camp verse flashed through his mind. ‘Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles…’
The 2nd Corps was soon on the march. Jackson’s men filed by in silence. No one was talking; all that could be heard was a muffled tramp, tramp, tramp of soldiers’ feet and the gentle clank of their gear.
Jackson allowed a smile to take to the corners of his lips. These were soldiers; real men. Veterans. Fearless. Hard-core men of war. They would take on anybody. They would follow only those whom they trusted and believed in. They were an Army. They were the best army the world had ever seen. They were men fighting for a cause with all their heart.
Lord, please give Thy divine guidance in this attack. It is only by Thy ever kind Providence that we can even hope to be successful...
Later that evening, the long column halted. They were tired, having just made a 12-mile trek, with only one water stop and no food stops. Part of the column had skirmished with Hooker’s men. Now the Yankees thought the Southerners were withdrawing from the area.
At 5:15 p.m., the attack began. There was only two hours of day light left, when C.S. Brig. Gen. Rodes was ordered to deploy his brigade. Raleigh Colston, Brigadier General, was right behind him.
Richard fell in step with Gen. Jackson and his aides. Champion tensed underneath Richard. He wanted to run; he always wanted to run. Richard patted him on the shoulder. It wouldn’t be long and he would be doing just that.
Excitement mounted inside Richard. Yes, they at last would push Hooker all the way across the river and personally escort them to Washington!
Meanwhile in the Yankee camp, the inexperienced German soldiers of the 11th Corps were talking and laughing while preparing their supper. They listened to music being played in a nearby pine grove.
A young drummer returned to the circle, carrying a bucket of water for a stew that was being made. The soldiers patted him on the back, thanking him for running the errand and promising him the first bowl of stew.
The boy turned to jot a letter to his mother while waiting on his food. He frowned; the ground under him vibrated. He gasped as a deer plowed through the camp, nearly tramping over him in the process.
“Hey, someone shoot some more meat for supper!”
“I’ve never seen so many rabbits or foxes in my life!”
“What I wouldn’t give for that deer there!”
The men laughed at the spectacle, casually wondering what had caused the animals to flee right through their camp.
The soldiers jumped and glanced at the knoll beyond them. There, cresting the hill above them was a line a mile long of Confederate soldiers!
“Get your guns!”
Orders were screamed to each other in a crazy mix of English and German. Everyone ran. Behind them, Confederates advanced.
Richard trotted along next to his commander’s column, waiting for orders and watching for any possible threat on Gen. Jackson’s life. Wounded soldiers still posed a threat and he constantly scanned the camp for such perils.
The Yankees gave up ground rapidly. Oh, they stopped and tried to hold the Confederates back, but their efforts were futile.
 He will finish as a Major General.
 Confederate Brigadier General, known for his hand in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Until Next Time,
Hello and welcome back to another post here at Life of Heritage Corner! I’m here with another post in my War Between the States Soldier Life series, this time focusing on the Corporal! This series is non-biased, so no matter what you believe about the war, you can learn something here!
Now before we get started, I shall give you my disclaimer: I am not an expert. These posts are merely the results of my personal research for my books, The Battle for Heritage Series. I try to write posts in this series that I would love to have read when I was searching books and websites for this information! So, if you have been looking for a post of this nature for your research, you’re welcome 😉 (Click here for episode 6: The Private or go to my Looking for Something? page for a full list of posts in this series.)
The corporal’s duties are pretty basic for the most part. They are in charge of the private soldiers. They oversee small details of camp life, following the orders of the sergeant. And, if the sergeant is gone, well, guess who’s in charge, boys? Often, corporals are disliked by the men because they can be overzealous to do a good job and stay on the sergeant’s good side. Plus, with their knowledge of the sergeant’s duties, they can come across as know-it-alls.
A Corporal is a non-commissioned officer. Which simply means, he’s in charge, you obey him. Period. But—you do not salute him, and you do not call him sir. He is not usually allowed to confine a soldier to his quarters or to the guard house, though. Unless someone has given him permission to do so.
I will cut them some slack, though…the higher-ranking men could be hard on them. They were expected to be the epitome of neatness and cleanliness in the way they dressed and cared for their equipment, an example for the private to follow. And a corporal could get in more trouble if he didn’t hold up to that standard. With position comes stiffer consequences. If a higher-ranking soldier called for the men to fall in, the corporal should be the first to arrive. And their quarters should always be in top notch condition.
They had to be able to instruct recruits in basic military actions and tactics. And if you’re going out into the field, guess who you get your rations from? Better stay on his good side!
And the pinnacle of his job…the Corporal of the Guard. We’ll get into the particulars of this in a minute, but not only did he have to know how to perform this duty, but he also had to be able to instruct others in carrying it out…flawlessly.
The Corporal of the Guard is the changing out of the sentries (to the best of my understanding). Three corporals are assigned to three groups of men, called reliefs. Each corporal marches their relief to their post for guard duty, changes them out with the last group of guards, then marches the old group back to camp. He is responsible for keeping up with the names of the men and that they are present and accounted for at their posts and when their shift ends. There’s a whole list of things the soldiers need to say and do as the exchange is taking place, but I’ll spare you the details.
After posting the sentries, the corporal must revisit the posts by daylight to make sure they understand their day-orders. This is to be repeated at night, as the orders are different. The corporal is held responsible by the officer of the day to make sure that the sentries are instructed correctly.
And when on guard duty, the corporal must keep in mind that they are only to take orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day and the officers and non-commissioned officers of the guard…which might not be his usual commanders. Now, try to keep that all straight when in a high-stress position!
They also have the pleasure of rounding up soldiers who have gone AWOL. Fun stuff!
Corporals were also, typically, in charge of fatigue duty. This is basically any job a soldier could be required to do where his weapon is not needed. For example, road work, building field placements (barriers and trenches) rifle pits, barricades (making or removing), foraging for food, etc.
And this is just for the Infantry Corporal! Forgive me, I’ll let you look up the rules for Cavalry and Artillery Corporals for yourself. 😉
So, there you have it, the basic overview of a Corporal’s duties in the 1860s! Next time you read a book with an obnoxious corporal, remember this post and try to grant him some grace. He’s got a tough life, lol!
Until Next Time,
Christian. American. Southern. Author.