Civil War Soldiers

How Many Fought: Around 2.75 million soldiers fought in the civil war; 2 million for the North and 750,000 for the South.

Average Soldier: Most soldiers were white, native-born, farmers, Protestants, single and between the ages of 18 and 29.

Making a Living: A majority of soldiers from the North and the South had been farmers before the war. Southerners who had not farmed were carpenters, mechanics, merchants, machinists, lawyers, teachers, blacksmiths and dentists.

Rifle, Carbine, or Cannon: Eighty percent of the Union army were in the infantry, 14 percent in the cavalry, and 6 percent in artillery. In the Confederate army, 75 percent of the men served in the infantry, 20 percent in the cavalry, and 5 percent in artillery.

Taps: The North lost more soldiers in service, battle and from other causes than the South.

Prisoners of War: Roughly 211,000 Union soldiers were captured; about 15 % of them died in prisoner of war camps. Over 426,000 Confederates were captured, 12% of those sent to POW camps, died in captivity.

Why They Fought: Men on both sides were inspired to fight by patriotism, state pride, the chance for adventure, and steady pay. Union soldiers fought to preserve the Union; the common Confederate fought to defend his home.

Army Melting Pots: The majority of Civil War soldiers were native born. Nearly, one quarter of the Union’s soldiers were immigrants. Southern immigrant numbers were smaller.

Black Troops: African-Americans made up 10 percent of the Union army. The Confederate Congress attempted to recruit African-Americans in 1865, but it was too late to make a difference.

The Wages of War: Soldiers on each side initially earned $11 per month. The Confederacy raised pay to $18 per month in 1864. The Union upgraded its soldiers’ monthly wage to $16 around the same time. After June 1864, black soldiers who had been free men before war were paid the same as whites.

Passing the Time: Soldiers had to deal with boredom. They wrote letters to families, friends and sweethearts. They played checkers, chess and baseball, and read whatever they could get on their hands. Drinking and especially gambling also occurred.

Dirt and Disease: Sanitary conditions remained poor in the camps. Diseases spread rapidly.

Religion: Both armies believed they were fighting with God’s blessing. Religion played a big part in the lives of many soldiers. Most of the men were Christians.

Source: Civil War Soldiers
© 2017 HistoryNet

Back to top