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A Union Soldier’s Miserable Daily Life

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

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.

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User Comments
  1. sd

    On February 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm


    not enough infomation not clear

  2. Karina

    On March 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm


    Not Enough information !!! Write more Information PLease!!! It will help!!

  3. A person

    On April 14, 2009 at 8:22 pm


    I like everything except for the Throughout the Day section, need more information.

    Very good otherwise.

  4. george vergardos

    On April 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm


    i dont like this page it stinks on ice

  5. Rachel Verkiulen

    On May 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm


    I really dont like this page because you dont really explain anything that deep you tell us the information in good deep details. This is suppose to help us not give us fractions of the Daily life of a soilder in the Civil War. Thanks for the know help i am going to fail my history report! Thanks i cant aford an F+ on my assiment!
    You are bad website people!

  6. me

    On May 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm


    not enough info dude. GET MORE INFORMATION!!! everyone has said it. the page isnt enough

  7. uh.... not gonna give my name...

    On May 24, 2009 at 11:29 pm


    This webiste is kinda o.k. it just needs to go in more. Dig deeper. add more, good humor, justs need more info to branch out.
    And Rachel i think you need to go to Grammar school first…. And I think there are other websites for info? Don’t be lazy!

  8. Corey

    On June 28, 2009 at 9:30 pm


    For those of you complaining about a “Lack” of information, this is a good amount of information and can help you write at least 2 good sized paragraphs. It tells you of how they lived, how the African Americans were treated in the army, their meals, and even some information on their daily lives. Be aware, there are other sites on the internet that may include additional information, I’ll assist you in finding such sites with a few quick and easy steps:
    1) Go to your address bar and type in “www.Google.com”(Note, the www. is not needed.)
    2) Type in one of the following “Daily live of a Union soldier”, “African Americans in the Union army”, “Housing of a Union soldier”, or one of your own.
    3) Click on one of the results provided, look over the information and see if there is useful information, if not close the tab(It’s what I suggest you use, makes things easier then having to redo steps 1-3 or having to hit back)
    4) Bookmark pages that you found useful information from, it helps if you suddenly lose power, laptop dies, or just have to do something else.

  9. somebody

    On November 12, 2009 at 8:19 pm


    It’s okay! But seriously, you could add a little bit more info. If you don’t mind! Otherwise its good!

  10. Person McPersonpants

    On April 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm


    I think it’s stupid how you guys are complaining about this site, it gives good enough info to where you can fill in with help from other sites, besides, bibliographies have to be more than one site.

  11. ??????

    On April 26, 2010 at 4:48 pm


    I love this website!! I got all of my information that I needed!! THANK YOUU!

  12. nottt givving myy nammee to youuu.

    On May 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm


    thiss webbsiteee is Gayyyyyyy.!!! <3 yaaaa.(:

  13. yasmine

    On May 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm


    This was so healpfull i loved it it healped me right a research paper about the hardships african american union solders faced every day!!!!<3

  14. no name

    On October 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm


    u guys need more info not enough,u could do better than that!
    come on!

  15. alex stanton

    On November 10, 2010 at 10:20 am


    weah ^^^

  16. idk

    On April 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm


    It’s mostly commercials…. needs info!! Writing doesn’t hurt! (unless u type to much, then u get a cramp…)

  17. read if u dont like sight

    On May 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm


    gave me a lot of info but can use some more on the soldiers but thanks good sight for those of u who think otherwise well u just dont know wat u doing

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