Civil War Winter seasons were mainly striving and wearisome for the armies. Blockaded, muddy roads and severe weather condition prevented active operations. Illness ran widespread, killing more guys than fights. However with all of its hardships winter season also enabled soldiers an opportunity to bond, have a little fun, and enjoy their more permanent camps. Through these bleak months all soldiers, Union and Confederate, needed to keep warm and hectic to endure.
In a search for a WARMER LOCATION
While on the move in warmer weather condition, soldiers frequently overslept, easily-erected canvas tents or they merely slept without cover, under the stars. In the winter, large camps were developed with more significant shelter. Winter season huts were established by the armies from the surrounding materials including trees, mud, leaves, and soldiers’ canvases. These shelters normally consisted of a chimney, which kept the little space warm. However, some were better developed than others.
Lack of Supply
The camps were set-up similar to small villages total with crisscrossing lanes called “business streets”, churches, and sutlers’ stores. While this might seem relaxing, these short-term villages did not have the suitable systems to supply clean water and eliminate waste; furthermore, the food was limited. Disease and death abounded and spread out quickly.
Keeping the Soldiers Spirit Up
However bad the weather, monotony was an ever-present problem. Commanders and soldiers alike attempted to establish routine activity and work to break the monotony. Drilling, camp up-keep, spiritual services, letter composing, card games, storytelling, and even the periodic snowball battle were all part of camp life.
Regardless of the finest efforts of their officers, or absence thereof, many soldiers strayed to less preferable activities.
Civil War soldiers winter quarters during the Winter of 1863 (Library of Congress) explained that it is a bad thing for an army to remain too long in one place. The men quickly end up being dissatisfied and dissatisfied, and we had no diversion or pastime other than playing poker and chuck-a-luck.
“Christmas overtook us again and began in full compassion of the times, boisterous and stormy. It seemed there were more combating and drinking in camp than usual; betting was once again on the rampage.”
— Dr. W. J. Worsham 19th Tennessee, December, 1863.
Discover what Christmas was like throughout the Civil War.
As the war advanced winter encampments displayed the resources available to each army. The Confederacy started to run low on materials and food, and their camps suffered while Union might, supplies, and transport helped with more comfy winter season for its soldiers.
Soldiers on the cold and hard-frozen ground, and when they stroll about, the echo of their footsteps sound like the echo of a tombstone. The earth is crusted with snow, and the wind from the northwest is piercing our bones. We can see our rough soldiers, with the sunken cheeks and famine-glistened eyes.
When the spring arrived, soldiers collected their personal belongings including their canvasses and marched away. However, residues of the camp stayed and in some cases, soldiers saw their old camp once again.