Leanto Shelter

doldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies spent weeks (and sometimes months) in the field, marching from one location to the next. Unless they were lucky enough to camp near a town or a farm that had large buildings, the soldiers usually ended up sleeping outdoors. Not every soldier was able to carry a small tent as part of his supplies, and those who did often found their canvas tents in need of repair. In KNOWYOUR SLANG the Confederate snug as a bug— army, in particu-very comfortable °r c°zy la, most soldiers below the rank of staff officer didn't have tents at all. Those who did quickly discovered how hard it was to lug a tent with them from place to place, and how quickly poorly made canvas fell apart.

Every soldier quickly learned how to build a simple lean-to shelter. Usually fallen logs or large branches from fallen trees dog tents

In old photographs of Civil War camps, you might have seen tent cities, where the ground is covered in A-frame tents in rows that stretch as far as you can see. While this was a common set up for the Union army, it wasn't so for the Confederacy. Most Confederate soldiers were lucky if they had a "shelter half" that they could pair with another soldier's shelter half to make what was known as "dog tents": two shelter halves buttoned together. Soldiers would team up to share dog tents, and they would often write funny sayings on the outside of the tents like, "bulldogpups for sale." Other nicknames for dog tents were dog kennel, picket tent, and pup tent.

Officers of the One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Infantry playing cards in front of tents, Petersburg, Virginia, August 1864.

were readily available, and when the soldiers were told to set up camp, they scrambled to create a lean-to shelter. They would take two branches about three or four feet in length, and stick them into the ground. Another log or heavy branch was tied to the tops of the branches. Then a few more branches were leaned against the top branch, and the soldiers had the framework for their shelter.

Soldiers who had an extra blanket would stretch the blanket across the shelter. Others who did not want to give up their extra blanket (it could get quite cold at night!) or who did not have an extra blanket would simply use moss, leaves, brush, ferns, or know your slang whatever was available. top "rail—first di's','the best civil war facts & trivia possum—a buddy

H Soldiers who camped out knew they should make their shelters or set up their tents at least 50 yards away from any body of water (such as a river or a lake), because evaporating water tended to add extra chill to the air. Many new soldiers did not believe the story about the evaporating water, and learned the hard way when they set up their tent or lean-to shelter next to the water. By morning they were usually freezing and many became sick.

H One of the few times a Confederate soldier lived in a tent was when he mustered in and went to training camp.

H In 1861 the U.S. army defined the term bivouac as passing the night without shelter, except what could be made with plants and branches.

make your own lean-to shelter

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