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Life of the Common Soldier

What was life like for the common soldier in the Civil War? It was one of hardship and suffering that brought men from various backgrounds together as they depended on one another for survival. But in the spirit of camaraderie, at times there was also mischief and fun amongst the ranks.

The common soldier's routine is explored in the words of writers—present and past—who have studied the lives of soldiers in depth, or who have themselves witnessed and experienced the battlefields and camps of the Civil War.

Click on one of the headings below to read stories in that section.

Dutch Hoffmann  

Tales of Dutch Hoffmann

Find out how the men lived and what they did to pass the time in these engaging, fictionalized letters by my friend, Dutch Hoffmann. Dutch, who has long researched the life of the common soldier, paints a vivid picture in the style of the great 19th century humorists, with colorful descriptions and a wealth of factual information. Just sit back and relax, and I hope you will enjoy these letters as much as I do.


The Civil War Memoirs of Daniel Crotty

Daniel G. Crotty, Color Sergeant for the Third Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company G, relates his account in Four Years Campaigning in the Army of the Potomac. Selected excerpts from his detailed narrative are presented for insight into the life of the common Federal soldier.

  Daniel Crotty
Sam Watkins  

In the Words of Sam Watkins

Sam R. Watkins, private in the First Tennessee Infantry, Company H, recounts his wartime saga in "Co. Aytch": A Side Show of the Big Show. Selected excerpts from his remarkable tale provide a glimpse into the life of the common Confederate soldier.


camp fire sketch by Charles W. ReedSinging for Their Supper:
The Common Soldier's Fare

The fare of the common soldier may not have always been very tasty or palatable but was often a topic of discussion amongst the men in the ranks, as well as the subject of songs, letters, and journal entries. On this page you will find passages by soldiers of the Blue and Gray, lyrics to popular soldier songs "Hard Crackers Come Again No More" and "The Army Bean," recipes for bean soup and cornbread, and illustrations of camp life.


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