Hello! Searching the internet for specific information can lead to dead ends and frustration at times. When I was writing my Civil War series, there were times when the internet failed me. I had to hunt and peck through stacks of books to gather small bits of relevant information. So, for those that are writing in this time period or just have a general interest, I have compiled some information about the War Between the States in this article. Hopefully this will be a help and you won’t have to spend as much time hunting as I did! So without further ado…
Soldier Life: Joining Up
Ever wonder what it was like for a soldier during the War Between the States? Well, let’s find out! We’re gonna start off by looking at what all went into joining their respective army. Let’s go!
It’ Spring, 1861 and how the news has been flying! Secession, Ft. Sumter being fire on, Lincoln declaring war…what would a young man do?
Well, if he is an able bodied man, more than likely, he will join the army. But what made him want to join? There are a number of reasons. Let’s look at a few…
The list could go on for quite a while, but you get the idea. That’s Step One: A reason to join. Now it’s on to Step Two: Where does he go to enlist?
Just like today, to the nearest recruiting station.
This might be his local courthouse, sheriff’s office, church, school house, etc. Wherever the army is, that’s where he will go.
Step Three: What happens next?
He will give his recruiter his name, date of birth (if he knew it), where he was from and like information. He signed the muster roll of the company he was joining and then swore an oath of allegiance to his country. In some places, especially at the beginning of the war, a physical examination was given to make sure he could stand up to the rigors of soldier life. As the war continued, the requirements were winked at.
Now, his supplies were issued. It usually consisted of:
Some items were brought from home; Others didn’t receive all of their equipment, thus major uniform confusions on the battlefield of First Manassas.
Following his enlistment and fitting out, he was shown to his camp’s headquarters. If he was from the South and got lucky, he got some drilling before going out to fight. But more than likely, he went to Manassas with a basic knowledge of marching orders and a good aim he learned at home. If he was in Stonewall’s Brigade, he was well set as far as the movements of the bayonet and drill. But most Southerners went into Manassas with minimal knowledge of proper military procedure… and we still won that battle!
Of course, if he were a Union soldier, he was pretty well trained by the time he got to Manassas. Of course, no soldier is ready for everything after only 1-2 months, but overall, the Union troops were better prepared for battle than the Southerners…but they still weren’t able to take Manassas.
Hope this was a help to you. I know I needed an article like this when I was researching!
Until next time,
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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