Slave life

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By the year 1860, most white Americans were embarrassed by slavery. After the American Revolution and its promise that "all men are created equal," the states north of Maryland abolished slavery But in the South, plantation owners depended on slaves. Growing cotton, sugar, rice, and other crops in the hot weather required the labor of many people, and relatively few whites lived there. The region's richest planters believed that without slaves their economy would be ruined. Because they could not explain how people could be slaves in a nation where all were supposed to be free, they simply called this bondage the Peculiar Institution. Northerners continued to chide Southerners, and this made them angry. Many of them felt trapped by slavery too. Their representatives in the U.S. Congress told the rest of the nation to accept the situation. While white men argued, black slaves suffered. They were paid nothing, fed little, given poor clothing, and denied an education. Their masters could beat them at any time, and they and their families could be sold. Long before the Civil War, slavery was a moral and political problem that would not go away

Auctioning slaves was a specialty for some of the auctioneering professionals._

ADVERTISING A SLAVE AUCTION Slaves were sold at auctions. Before one of them was held, advertisements such as this one were circulated. They described the men and women who were being put up for sale.

TOOLS OF CRUELTY This photograph was circulated throughout the North by antislavery activists. The man in it is a former slave who posed in shackles and an iron slave collar for a Union army officer during the

Civil War. A paddle used for beating slaves lay on the ground behind him.


These cotton field hands labor under the supervision of a mounted overseer, a white manager of slaves who was employed by the owner of the plantation. Overseers were also expected to control and discipline slaves. The cruelty of some of them inspired the novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe to create the villain Simon Legree, a character in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Slave child. There was no one to care for young slaves, so they spent time in the fields from birth.

Slaves who I greiv tired of hearing the copper bells muffled the clappers with dirt and mud.

A SLAVE COLLAR A slave could be worth several hundred dollars. If he or she escaped, it was a financial loss for the owner. If the master believed a slave was likely to run away, he sometimes kept track of the slave by locking him or her into this collar equipped with bells. As long as the master could hear the jingling of the bells, he knew his slave was close by.

Leg iron, which prevented a slave from bending the leg



Slave handler,


Slave handler,

Slaves For Sale


The Peculiar Institution was a business. Millions of dollars were made and spent on the sales of human beings each year until the end of the Civil War. This painting of a slave auction was made in 1852. The last public slave auction in the United States was held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1865.

Canvas cotton sack

Canvas cotton sack

Cotton Slavery Civil War


These are picked bolls of raw cotton. Until their tangled fibers are combed out and their seeds are removed, they cannot be woven into fabric. Slaves did these chores by hand until 1793. In that year, twenty-eight-year-old Eli Whitney of New England invented the cotton gin, a hand-cranked machine that combed and seeded cotton in large quantities. This made cotton the "king" of the Southern economy, allowed white planters to amass fortunes — and created a need for tens of thousands of slaves to work the cotton fields.

Cotton 1860
Cotton boll

The election of 1860

When the presidential election of 1860 arrived, the candidates took positions on the great controversy of the day: where — and why — slavery should exist in the United States. John Bell, the little-known candidate of the Constitution Party, said slavery and the U.S. Constitution should be left as they were. The Democratic Party split into two factions at its convention. Pro-slavery Southerners nominated U.S. Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky as their candidate. Democrats who favored a compromise over the slavery issue named Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas as their candidate. The six-year-old Republican Party opposed slavery. Its candidate was Illinois attorney Abraham Lincoln, a man with little experience in government. Lincoln won the election, but with little popular support, because the majority had split its votes among the other three men. Opponents of the Republicans were outraged; some even demanded that the election be declared invalid, and repeated. Pro-slavery Americans were expected to accept quietly a leader they did not want. They took radical action instead.


In Lincoln's time, presidential candidates did not make many personal appearances. Their supporters did the traveling and made all the speeches. Printed portraits of the candidates were posted on walls or passed around to friends. Presidential candidates Stephen Douglas and John C. Breckinridge embraced new technology in 1860 and had photographs of themselves distributed. Abraham Lincoln was also photographed that year. However, not even his staunchest supporters believed Lincoln was handsome, and seen. Many people who voted for Lincoln had no idea what he little girl wrote to him, suggesting that he grow whiskers. He did. Today he is remembered as a man with a beard.


In the early and middle 1800s, supporters of all parties held rallies and parades for their candidates. Often these events took place at night, at the end of the workday. The item shown here is a parade torch. Dozens of marchers carried these flames to light the way for candidates, supporters, and marching bands as they walked through towns and villages chanting campaign slogans and singing campaign songs.

Lincoln Campaign Slogans

Angel of the Union, overlooking all---


This Republican broadside, or poster, from 1860 features a portrait of Lincoln's running mate, U.S. Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. As the Republican Party's vice-presidential candidate, Hamlin was expected to appeal to Northeastern voters. But the political climate changed over time. In 1864, the party replaced him with Andrew Johnson, a Union loyalist from Tennessee.

Symbol of Freedom

In the 1860 election, Douglas received 1.375,000 wtes to Lincolns 1,866,000. Eight months after the election, he became ill and died. In his last days, he asked all Americans to support Lincoln and the Union. ^

Symbol of Freedom

Symbol Agricultures Pictures

Symbol of Justice

Symbol of Agriculture I


Senator Stephen Douglas was a famous politician in 1860. He was a skilled speaker and a likable man. Because of his slight stature, supporters called him the Little Giant. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln had run against him for his Senate seat, debating him in public several times. Although Lincoln lost that election, the debates popularized many of his views. They also served to introduce the little-known politician from Illinois to tKe broader American public.

Symbol of Industry I


Democrat John C. Breckinridge served as vice president during President James Buchanan's term in office. Buchanan was a Democrat from Pennsylvania, a free state. Breckinridge was a Democrat who came from Kentucky, a slave state.

This combination of candidates from the North and the South had helped the Democratic Party win the White House in 1856. After losing the 1860 election Breckinridge became a general in the Confederate

Symbol of Justice

Symbol Tom BuchananDemocratic Party Symbol 1856Democratic Party Symbols

The Underground Railroad

White opponents of slavery, called abolitionists, organized their resistance in the 1820s and 1830s. Early leaders were clergymen and Quakers, members of a pacifist sect called the Society of Friends. One such leader was the Reverend Lyman Beecher, father of Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Another was Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina. Coffin left his home in 1826 and set up an operation in the free state of Ohio that became the Underground Railroad. This was a system of secret trails that ran from the northernmost slave states, through New England or the upper Midwest, to Canada. Escaped slaves linked up with guides, or "conductors," at locations they had heard about from other slaves. Conductors led the escapees along the trails and stopped to rest at "stations," the homes of abolitionists. One famous conductor was ex-slave Harriet Tubman. At its best, the Railroad liberated only about a thousand slaves a year. But its very existence, and the silent cooperation of thousands of Northerners, angered slave owners greatly. When antislavery militant John Brown led a terrorist raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, pro-slavery Southerners felt their fears of the abolitionist movement were justified.


This landscape view of Harpers Ferry shows the importance of the town's location. Harpers Ferry lies at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet. Because the community sits beside waters that could power machinery as well as serve as a natural roadway, it was chosen as the site for a U.S. government arsenal and arms factory. The location and the arsenal made Harpers Ferry a good target not only for John Brown in 1859, but also, two years later, for warring Civil War generals.

A SLAVE STEALER'S HAND Captain Jonathan Walker, an abolitionist seaman, was arrested at Key West, Florida, in the 1850s with a boatload of escaped slaves. He was jailed and branded on the palm of his right hand with the letters SS. The letters stood for "slave stealer." Abolitionists showed copies of this photograph at antislavery rallies throughout the North!

Kansas Mine Creek Battlefield Leather Tanner


John Brown was an unsuccessful leather tanner and farmer from Ohio. He moved to New York State and then Kansas, working for abolition. During the Kansas-Missouri border wars, he led others in the murder of some pro-slavery men. Then he traveled east, and in October, 1859, with the help of armed associates, attacked the town and government arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown hoped to arm slaves with guns from the arsenal and start a rebellion. He believed God wanted him to end slavery with bloodshed. After his arrest, he told his attorneys of this message. His words shocked them, and they wanted him to plead innocent by reason of insanitv. Brown refused.

The Harpers Ferry engine house became a tourist attraction in the days following the crisis and was photographed often. This souvenir picture is from the postwar years.

JOHN BROWN'S FORT When John Brown and his gang assaulted Harpers Ferry, they took several prominent citizens hostage.

Armed with weapons taken from the town's federal arsenal, they barricaded themselves inside the local volunteer fire company's engine house and ignored the calls of local law enforcers to surrender. Within two days, a small force of U.S. Marines arrived and, using a ladder as a battering ram, smashed open the engine house door. All the Marines escaped harm, but Brown was wounded and arrested. He was tried, convicted of treason, and executed. After his death, John Brown became a martvr of the abolitionist movement.

John Brown Abolitionist


Sojourner Truth was born a slave in New York State around 1797. In 1827, she ran away from her master and took refuge with a New York abolitionist family named Van Wagener. She took their family name and supported herself by working as a domestic. In 1843, after claiming to have heard divine voices, she renamed herself Sojourner Truth and began lecturing on the cause of abolitionism. An illiterate, she dictated her life story to writer Olive Gilbert, and her book, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, became a best-seller in the years before the Civil War. The money she earned from her lectures and book sales helped support the work of the Underground Railroad. In the years following the war, Sojourner took up the cause of women's rights and continued her speaking career well into old age.

Symbols Frederick Douglass


The best-known antislavery spokesperson of the prewar years was Frederick Douglass. He was the son of a Maryland plantation slave woman and her white master. During childhood, he was sent to live with a family in Baltimore. As a young man, he acquired forged papers, disguised himself as a seaman, and traveled north by railroad to freedom. A.ier receiving an education, he became a forceful speaker on the abolitionist circuit and wrote a best-selling autobiography that described the heartbreak of slavery. When the Civil War ended, he won a post as a federal marshal in Washington, D.C., and continued campaigning for the rights of black Americans.

Harriet Tubman

THE WOMAN CALLED MOSES Harriet Tubman was a Maryland field slave who escaped to Philadelphia and became a famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. The more than three hundred slaves she led to freedom in the years before the Civil War nicknamed her Moses. John Brown knew her and called her General Tubman. By the time she was in her forties, she was a national celebrity. Tubman died in 1913, at the age of ninety-two, after living for many years in Auburn, New York, and working for the civil rights of black Americans. This painting was made in her later years.

Famous Angry Civil War Paintings


Pro-slavery southerners were angry at the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860. Radicals among them believed they would no longer have a voice in American government. In South Carolina, where slaves outnumbered the white population, voters called for the state's secession from the Union. In December, 1860, a secession convention in the city of Charleston declared South Carolina's independence from the United States. Militiamen and citizens there seized U.S. government property. Major Robert Anderson took a small force into Fort Sumter, a brick fortification on a small island in the middle of Charleston Harbor. Anderson was determined to protect this bit of U.S. property from seizure. South Carolinians were equally determined to take the fort. Through January, February, and March, 1861, they surrounded the harbor with heavy cannons. Their guns prevented ships from bringing supplies to the fort. During this time, other states seceded. In March, in Montgomery, Alabama, these seceded states formed a new government, which was called the Confederate States of America. On April 11, Confederate cannons opened fire on Fort Sumter. These shots began the Civil War. Anderson's men fired back at the Charleston guns, but were forced to give in on April 12 when Confederate shells set their fort's interior on fire.


The forgotten vice president of the Confederate States of America was Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Stephens was very thin, small, and sickly. He came to be known to the Confederate voters as Little Aleck.


In March, 1861, Jefferson Davis was named president of the Confederate States by convention delegates in Montgomery, Alabama. This was a temporary appointment. Later, in February, 1862, Davis stood for national election and was picked by the Southern people to serve a six-year term. This formal portrait of him was made long afterward. When first asked to serve as president, Davis said that he wanted to be a Confederate general instead. The future president of the Confederacy had served as a soldier during the Mexican War.


Charleston citizens were jubilant when state representatives voted their state out of the Union. Both Northern and Southern newspapers covered celebrations at an auditorium called Institute Hall, where the vote was taken. The spot was later called Secession Hall.



This headline from the Charleston Mercury is one of the most famous in U.S. history. It was issued as a one-sheet "extra" on December 20,

1860. The paper informed the people of Charleston of the vote for secession even before word of the event reached Washington, D.C.


This is a pewter copy of the Great Seal of the Confederacy, the official stamp of the young Confederate government.

Cast Iron Great Seal The Confederacy

Solid cast-iron ball

Fort Sumter Cannonball

This Confederate cannonball was intended for Fort Sumter. It landed in Charleston instead.

BEAUREGARD'S SOUVENIR After the surrender of Sumter, Southerners commemorated the occasion by posing for photographs at the fort and by carrying away bits of the structure as mementos. A piece of the Union garrison's shattered flagstaff was cut, polished, and made into a walking stick for the leader of the Southern force there, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.


This small flag flew over Sumter during its bombardment by Confederates. A Southern shell knocked it down early on April 12. Under fire, a Union sergeant climbed the flagpole and nailed it back into place.

This Confederate cannonball was intended for Fort Sumter. It landed in Charleston instead.


This cannonball was fired during the duel between Fort Sumter's cannons and Confederate guns in other forts around Charleston Harbor. Very little damage was done to Charleston during the fight, and no one on either side was killed by artillery fire.

Solid cast-iron ball

Firing Fort Sumter


Troops led by General P.G.T. Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. on April 11,1861. Major Robert Anderson, his eighty-five soldiers, and forty-three laborers fought back with fort)-eight cannons. The federal flag was lowered on the afternoon of April 12. The next day, a formal Mirrender ceremony was held. The fort's defenders were then put on ships bound for New York City. There they were welcomed as heroes.

Raising armies

April 14, 1861, was a Monday. On this day, President Lincoln heard that Fort Sumter had surrendered. He issued a call for loyal state governors to send 75,000 militia troops to protect Washington, D.C., and put down the rebellion. Over the coming years, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis asked for volunteers every few months. In 1862, the Confederate Congress approved conscription, the drafting of men into the army. The U.S. Congress did the same in 1863. Northern states also approved paying bounties, cash awards paid to men who volunteered to serve in some new regiments. Many Northerners and Southerners objected to the draft. There were draft riots in New York City in July, 1863. But in the end, both sides put millions of soldiers in the field. North Carolina provided more Confederate army regiments than any other Southern state. New York supplied the most Northern regiments.

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THE 7TH NEW YORK GOES TO WAR When Lincoln called for 75,000 troops, New York City sent its 7th Regiment of militia. Here, the people of the city cheer the regiment's men as they march to the train that will take them to Washington.


Many disliked the way some regiments recruited. These men are considering joining up. Among them are criminals called bounty jumpers. They will join, receive bounty money, then desert the army. Later, they will use an alias to join another regiment and receive more money.


Mississippi was the second state to secede. It sent 80,000 men into the army under its banners. This is the flag of one of the state's early volunteer units, the Lowry Rifles. Its men showed their regional pride by adopting the motto "The Sunny South" for their standard. After the initial patriotic rush of enlistments, however, it became harder and harder for the South to organize regiments like this one.


Clothing hand made by folks at home was common wear in many of the first volunteer regiments. In the South, it was prevalent throughout the war. The sister of Private James Lampton of Mississippi made this hat for him out of pine straw.

James Lampton

30,000 Y0LOT

county bounty cash down state bountf^rf u.s. bounty for new recruits i totalto hew recruits $ 677 lu-s-floohtttoveteran soldiers«^ 100

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15 oo hand money


Forged steel barrel

Blade sight

Forged steel barrel

Blade sight


Both the Union and Confederate armies used versions of this .58 caliber rifle. In the North, it was called the Springfield Model 1861 for the Springfield, Massachusetts, armory where it was first made. The model shown here was made in Richmond, Virginia, for Southern troops.

Pictures Slave Market Richmond

Peter Lyle\ Regt.


Before the invention of radio, television, and motion pictures, organizations and government officials spoke to individuals by using posters. These were hung in places where people often gathered, such as town squares, open-air markets, and the front of shops and newspaper offices. This enlistment poster was one of the most popular types seen in the first days of the Civil War. It does not mention pay or benefits. Rather, the picture of the patriotic soldier in battle gives recruits the impression that if they enlist, they will experience adventure.


Water was more important to the Civil War soldier than food and gunpowder. In summer, men were lost on marches because they suffered dehydration. Many of the first volunteers were given tin canteens, like this one, taken from U.S. government stockpiles.

Stamped tin

Irishmen Enlist

Stamped tin

Paintings Before 1860s India


SOFTHAT m»iurACioatu _

Everyone's war

In the 1860s, some people were discouraged from joining the Union and Confederate armies due to old laws and traditions. Native Americans, for instance, were excluded from many volunteer regiments. In the Northeast, there was a great deal of prejudice against members of immigrant groups, and in many places they were also kept out of volunteer units. Men from all these minorities worked their way into the military in the same way: They formed their own volunteer regiments. Irishmen, Jews, Italians, and Germans enlisted in units made up of other patriotic immigrants. Native Americans fought in "Indian outfits" in both armies. The Benavides brothers from Texas raised a Confederate outfit made up of other Mexican Americans. The adventure of the Civil War also attracted professional soldiers from other countries, called foreign observers, who made themselves useful in battle. Some of them, such as Prussian army cavalry officer Heros Von Borke, who traveled with Robert E. Lee's Confederate army, actually went into combat.

Robert Lees UniformsGaribaldi Guard Images


Italian-born members of New York City's Garibaldi Guard wore uniforms that let everyone know their country of origin. Their broad-brimmed hats were decorated with rooster feathers. Such feathers are considered emblems of courage and are still worn on Italian military caps.


Most members of the 120th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers were Protestant. However, their colonel, Marcus Spiegel, was a Jewish businessman who brought his leadership skills to the Union war effort. He and the 120th saw hard combat during the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. After the war, Spiegel became nationally known for his mail-order company.

Slavery 1860s Mississippi


In the 1860s, most Americans were Protestant and were suspicious of different denominations and faiths. The Irish troops in this photograph had a Catholic priest as their chaplain. But members of one largely Jewish regiment in the Union army were not allowed to have a rabbi as their spiritual leader. The war was nearly over before the Northern army changed its rules and enlisted clergymen from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Confederate Cabinet Jewish


Before the war, Judah Benjamin was a U.S. senator from Louisiana. This photograph of him is from that period. Later, he served as the only Jewish member of Confederate ^ President Jefferson Davis's ^^^ cabinet. At different times, he was the Confederacy's attorney general and its secretary of state. He also served briefly as secretary of war. In that role, Benjamin's decisions affected the lives of all Confederate soldiers.

Austro-Hungarian-style uniform coat


Patrick R. Cleburne was born in County Cork, A Ireland. He studied pharmacy at school and ^fl later served for three years in Britain's Royal ^H Army. After that, he immigrated to Arkansas and ran a drugstore. This background hid great military talent. In the Confederate army, he rose to the rank of major general H

and led his troops to many victories. Cleburne was killed in November, 1864, at the Battle of Franklin, near Nashville, ^^H Tennessee. He was shot while waving his military cap in the air and shouting for his ^H men to follow him in a charge. ^B


Irish-born Union Brigadier General Thomas F. Meagher raised a brigade of Irish immigrant volunteers. Each regiment in the brigade carried one of these banners. This flag of the brigade's 4th Regiment is the only one to survive the war. Because the green banners made good targets, they were shredded bv Southern bullets.

Game of Irish harp dominoes


Stand Watie was a chief of the Cherokee tribe in what is today Oklahoma. He formed a brigade of Native Americans to fight for the South and was made a brigadier general. His troops fought at the battles of Wilson's Creek in ^k Missouri and Pea Ridge in ^fl Arkansas. In June, 1865, ^H Watie was the last ^H Confederate general ^H to surrender his troops.

Side knife ^fl

EUROPEAN OBSERVERS Civil War photographers liked to pose important visitors for pictures. Here are three titled French military men: from the left, the Due de Chartes, the Prince de Joinville, and the Comte de Paris. They are all members of the same French titled family, and served with Union Major General George McClellan's staff in 1862.

Muzzle-loading rifle


The Midwest produced many regiments made up of men from Germany and Scandinavia. These two soldiers from Illinois, George and Herman Grothe, were both born in Germany.

Woman Sewing For The Troops


These women are members of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. They are doing a traditional wartime task: sewing a flag for Union army volunteers.

Clara Barton Childhood

Women at war

A UNION PATRIOT Clara Barton is remembered as the founder of the American Red Cross. During the Civil War, she worked as a government clerk in Washington, D.C., then won fame as a battlefield nursing volunteer. In September, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, she came under hostile fire for the first time. Clara Barton frequently risked her life throughout the conflict while aiding the sick and wounded.

In the 1860s, around the globe, laws and customs prohibited women from taking part in war. But in America there was a different attitude. For generations, women had endured the dangers of the frontier. They had supported their men in wars against the British, Mexicans, and Native Americans. In those conflicts, most soldiers were volunteers. When they went off to battle, they left the women behind to look after farms, businesses, and communities. At those times, women were often called on to bear the burden of "men's work" as well as the work traditionally considered their own. They proved they were tough. Men still did not want women to face flying bullets and cannon shot in the Civil War, but they did accept them taking part in war off the battlefield. Though their numbers were small, women played a role in support work in Union and Confederate government departments. Some were spies. While most army nurses were men, women were allowed to serve as hospital volunteers. Regiments of upper-class soldiers sometimes supported a vivandière, a uniformed female mascot who marched with the troops and performed camp chores. In the North, many women belonged Ph £CpNFuDERATEANkGELh, to the Sanitary Commission.

Phoebe Pember is remembered for J

her selfless work in Confederate This Was an organization army hospitals around Richmond, .u . 4-n f-Up (\p]A

Virginia. Mrs. Pember was a South lIldl ird W

Carolina widow. During the war, with SUpplieS for she kept a journal of her hospital i i • i • r experiences. Published after the SOlCiier reiiei. conflict ended, it criticized the

Southern government's administration and operation of its hospitals.


These women are members of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. They are doing a traditional wartime task: sewing a flag for Union army volunteers.

Woman Sewing For The TroopsJaneta VelazquezFemale Cuban Soldiers


Medicine bottle

Loreta Janeta Velazquez



Gingham dress

Loreta Janeta Velazquez


Medicine bottle


Loreta Janeta Velazquez was a Southerner of Cuban-American descent. She claimed she had donned a disguise and served in the Confederate army as Lieutenant Harry Buford so that she would be near her soldier-husband. She also claimed to have been widowed twice during the war and to have served as a spy. Most veterans found Madame Velazquez's claims outrageous. Yet the memoirs she wrote after the war, titled The Woman in Battle, sold well. Both of these portraits come from a copy of her book.


When warring armies passed through communities, women and children often became refugees. The woman in this photograph with her wagon load of furniture and children was displaced when Union troops evicted all civilians from her county. Northerners used this strategy when they hunted guerrillas.


Gingham dress



Sarah Emma Edmonds was born in Canada, but was working in the United States when the Civil War broke out. Disguising herself as a man, she joined a Union army regiment and serv ed without being detected until she became ill. Rather than have her gender discovered by an army doctor, Sarah Edmonds deserted. Following the war, she married, started a family, and became the only female member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans' organization.


\orthern female nursing volunteers were eventually organized by medical reformer Dorothea Dix. However, she prohibited them from serving near the front lines. Like the volunteer shown here, women who worked as nurses were confined to supervised service in hospitals. Male nurses bathed the patients and moved them; they also assisted doctors during grisly battlefield surgery.

The belt plate is the Georgia coat of arms.

Guerrera Coat ArmsDorothea Dix During SurgeryDrummer Boy Rifle For Watie

The young and the old


This romanticized painting of a wounded young drummer being carried around the battlefield on the shoulder of an older soldier was popular in Northern homes in the years just after the war.


Winfield Scott was America's most honored soldier at the time the Civil War began. He joined the army in 1808, led troops in the War of 1812, commanded the American forces that conquered Mexico City in 1848, and was the Whig Party's presidential candidate in 1852. He was also the first military man to hold the rank of lieutenant general since George Washington. Scott was respected in the North for his loyalty. . _

Though born and raised in slave-holding Virginia, he stood by the Union. He died in 1866 and is buried in New York State at the U.S. Army Military Academy at West Point.

1 hroughout history, there have been famous old soldiers and very brave, very young ones. When the Civil War first broke out, seventy-four-year-old Lieutenant General Winfield Scott led the Union army. He was in poor health, weighed more than three hundred pounds, and had trouble sitting on a horse. But before leaving the army in November, 1861, he developed a broad military strategy that later led to Union victory. For his part, John Clem of Ohio won national attention when, as a ten-year-old, he survived the vicious combat at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, in April, 1862. He had forced himself on the men of the 22nd Michigan as their drummer boy. At Shiloh, enemy shell fragments smashed his little drum. Drawings of Clem appeared in newspapers, along with stories of his narrow escape, and made him a celebrity. But he was not the only extremely young volunteer. More than 3,900 boys aged sixteen and under wrangled their way into the Union army, and it is estimated that there were even more boy soldiers serving the Confederacy. Although soldiers in both armies were supposed to be between the ages of eighteen and forty-six, near the war's end, Southern states encouraged boys as young as fifteen to join the militia and pressed elderly men into military service.


Northerners called seventy-one-year-old David Twiggs a traitor. In 1861, Major General Twiggs, a native of Georgia, commanded the U.S. forces in Texas. When the Lone Star State seceded from the Union, he surrendered all U.S. forts in Texas to local Confederates and turned over all army supplies and payrolls to Southern authorities. His reward was a Confederate general's commission. However, his advanced age kept him from serving in the field. H died of natural causes in 1862 while the war was still under way.

The belt plate is the Georgia coat of arms.

Confederate Non Commissioned Officer

White patent-leather cross belt

Gray zoool tunic

Noncommissioned officer's dress sioord

Cap box

Margaret Douglas Countess Lennox


What American boy today can imagine marching off to war with his father? This was not unheard of during the Civil War. Volunteers who made up the first militia companies came from small towns and neighborhoods. Often brothers or fathers and sons were among the members. This Southern parent and child posed for the camera in their dress militia uniforms before heading off for combat.


John Clem ran away from his Ohio home to loin the army at age nine.

He had turned ten by the time he served at the Battle of Shiloh. The next year, in September, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia, Clem shot a Southern officer who tried to force him to surrender. This won him even more celebrity. Years after the war, General Grant made him a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. John Clem tired as a major general in 1916.


Landon Creek was very young when he joined a regiment of Mississippi volunteers. He was wounded three times before he turned fifteen. His war injuries inspired him to go back to school when peace came. He studied hard and became a doctor. But he always kept this small hat he had worn during the war to remind him of his days as a boy soldier.

White patent-leather cross belt

Gray zoool tunic

Noncommissioned officer's dress sioord

NOT TOO YOUNG TO FIGHT This unidentified Southern recruit is of school age. Many young boys scrawled the number 18 on a piece of paper, then stuffed the paper into the bottom of one of their shoes. When enlistment officers asked the youths if they were over eighteen, the underage volunteers believed that they could say "yes" without having lied since they were "over" the paper marked with "18."

Cap box

Reenactment Crossbelt Plate

HOME AWAY FROM HOME The waterproof leather knapsack was an item common to every foot soldier in the first years of the war. A leather-wrapped blanket roll was strapped to the top, and inside a soldier carried every bit of spare clothing he might have; his tin cup, plate, fork, and spoon; extra ammunition; and any personal items he might want to keep with him. As they lost more items and as regulations relaxed, many soldiers abandoned these sacks later in the war and took to carrying all their possessions in a simple blanket roll carried over their shoulders.

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