Though our first thoughts of Civil War soldiers are probably of them in battle, the reality is that they spent much more time in camp than in battles. So, in addition to their uniforms and weapons, they needed items for life in camp. At the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, we have an exhibit which is dedicated to these items. Let’s take a look at some of the things from the Everyday Life of a Soldier exhibit.
|This display contains some typical items which would have been used by the soldiers in camp. Many of them were probably brought from home, but others could have been sent by their families, or even purchased from the sutlers that followed the armies.|
|Civil War soldiers usually only had one uniform, though sometimes they had extra clothing items from home, like these socks. Their clothes took a lot of wear, so another item commonly found in camp was a “housewife,” or small sewing kit, for repairing their clothes. You can read more about these kits here. Socks on loan from the collection of Gordon Dammann.|
|Camp life could be boring, and reading a newspaper, book, or Bible was a common pastime. Some soldiers even kept diaries of their time in service. This is a diary kept by a surgeon – you can read more about it here. Diary on loan from the collection of Cathie Deadrick.|
|Soldiers also needed personal care items with them in camp. Shown here are a small mirror, a shaving mug and brush, a straight razor and strop, a small comb, and a washbasin. Pictured artifacts on loan from the collection of Gordon Dammann.|
I hope you’ve enjoyed this small glimpse into the camp life of Civil War soldiers!