Insight into the life of a Union soldier.
The American Civil War was no doubt the bloodiest, gruesome, sequence of battles ever fought on United State’s territory. The men, and in some rare instances, women, were called to meet their fate when most did not recognize the cause, or the reasoning behind such madness. The chaos would inevitably loom in a soldier’s mind after a victor was declared, but that was all a part of a soldier’s daily grind in the Civil War.
Background of the Union Soldiers
There was a comical name given to the average Union soldier, and that is, “Billy Yank,” and likewise the Confederate title was, “Johnny Reb,” but the many nicknames given to assorted battles and leaders didn’t do justice to the races and nationalities present in the Civil War.
On average about seventy-five percent of Union soldiers were full-blooded American and most of the foreigners migrated from Germany and Ireland. These groups were not the only ones to travel to America to serve in the Union army. The Canadian, as well as the French, Italian, and Hungarian countries provided troop support where needed.
With the many different cultures came prejudice towards foreigners in which numerous languages were spoken, or African American soldiers, which came to a count of 172,000 within the Civil War years. The black soldiers’ duty was mainly building defenses, cleaning the filth in camps, and also garrison duty, but that was nothing compared to the criticism they took.
White Union soldiers would taunt and terrorize their black comrades even though the outlaws of the division could fight as well as any general. In fact, the African American soldiers could never rise above the rank of a common soldier and were formed in separate regiments, completely away from white regiments. It wasn’t until the end of the Civil War that black soldiers gained equal citizenship and the respect they deserved.
Shelter for Union soldiers was far less than convenient and comfortable. At the beginning of the war, soldiers were blessed with spacious barracks in such cities in New York; but once things turned south the soldiers were forced to live in the typical refuge at that time; the tent. Throughout their time spent in a federal uniform, the soldiers were sheltered in either one of a few types of tents.
The first kind was designed by Henry Sibley. He transformed his idea into a contraption related to the Indian teepee, and fittingly named it the Sibley tent. Sibley made sure the design could adequately house at least ten soldiers and could thus shield rain if necessary. The next type was commonly staged for a hospital in which the injured federals would go to receive treatment. The size varied and often times two or more tents would be combined for more room for the injured or sick. Rarely were these tents used for average soldiers’ accommodations.