Soldiers learned early on that war was not all glory. In fact, war was hard, dreary, and even torturous. Soldiers faced hunger and malnutrition, bad weather, long and grueling marches, and boredom. Soldiers woke at dawn. Drills were performed in the morning and afternoon to practice for battle. Soldiers learned how to march and to load a musket. (To learn how to load a musket, visit http://www.civilwar.org/hallowed-ground-magazine/winter-2013/how-to-load-the-rifle-musket.html). Soldiers were required to know where their place in the unit was so the regiment and army could fight as a group. A key to victory was to be able to fight together and obey the commanding officer's commands. At night, soldiers would also have guard duty. In between drills, soldiers worked and performed their daily chores. Chores included cooking meals, chopping wood, slaughtering food, fixing uniforms which were made of wool and smothering in the long summer months on long marches, and cleaning their equipment. If a soldier had any free time, he may write letters to home or sing songs. Some could be found playing games like poker and dominoes. Soldiers may even play baseball or have cockroach races.
Camps were often dirty due to the slaughtering of animals and the use of bathrooms near the camp. Diseases were spread because soldiers would use the bathroom next to the river. Those farther down the river drank that very water, making many ill. Bugs swarmed throughout the camp, and lice was rampant. Poor nutrition led to blackening teeth.
Soldiers diets were mainly meat, more specifically beef. What vegetables they did eat were mainly corn and beans. Bread and hardtack were generally served with either water or coffee. Look below for a simple hardtack recipe.
Prisoners of War
If life as an enlisted man was considered difficult, it was even more difficult for a prisoner of war. Conditions were so horrible that thousands died while being held prisoner. Prisons provided limited shelter and no food. Many prisoners suffered from starvation. While no soldier wanted to be captured and sent to prison, Yankee soldiers feared Andersonville. Located in Georgia, the Confederate prison for Union soldiers was the worst prison in Civil War history. Prisons like Andersonville had mass burials for the dead.
The average age of a soldier was 25 years. In order to join the army, one must be 18 years old. However, some soldiers lied about their age by carrying a note with the number 18 in their shoe so they could enlist. Some enlisted at the young age of 13.
A soldier's pay was little. A private in the North made about 13 dollars a month. A general may make up to 700 dollars per month. In the South, a private may make 11 dollars per month. On both sides, pay was irregular, and a soldier may have to wait six months before receiving his pay.
In the fall, soldiers would work on fortifying themselves for their winter camp.
Rich men could avoid the draft by finding someone else to fight for them and by making a small payment.