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The Common Soldier of the Civil War

September 11, 2013

#21 A Civil War Soldier

Black cotton haversack with:

   Tin cup

   Clay pipe end

   “foraged” spoons (4)

   Knife for eating meals

   Fork for eating meals


   Civil War mini balls in box


54th Massachusetts wool cap with laminated sheet

Gray cotton CSA cap

Black wool vest

Gray woolen pants with bracers (suspenders)

Light blue woolen coat

Red/black plaid woolen bedroll tied with twine

One pair of shoes


$” toy cannon

Replica Civil War bullets (9 in package)

North Carolina wooden canteen

9 National park trading cards

Confederate and Northern paper money in two envelopes



If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War by  Kay Moore

Civil War for Kids: 21 Activities by Janis Herbert

L’il Dan, the Drummer Boy by Romare Bearden


DVDs- All the Past We Leave Behind

             The Civil War in Four Minutes

May 2012 National Geographic on Civil War

Power Point on Civil War  






Students would need to know the differences between the Civil War soldier and a current one.  Here are two photos that could be used for this purpose.

Anticipatory Set:   What would the average soldier need during wartime, to be ready for anything they may encounter today?  Have students brainstorm together on a sheet of paper.  Why would you need all this materials?  Could you carry it all day long?  What about a Civil War soldier?  Would he be able to carry the same materials?  Students could respond with different war and time period.

On average, the Civil War soldier carried approximately 20 pounds of weight on them at all times.  Have a 20 pound weight: four bags of sand, each weighing 5 pounds; 5 gallon bucket holding 20 pounds of dirt; back backs with student books;  to exemplify what they would have carried. 
























Instructions: You are a Civil War soldier getting ready for your first major campaign. You may

be "on the road" for several months — sometimes marching over twenty miles/day, perhaps

fighting several major battles with the enemy. The army has issued you a U.S. Model 1861

"Springfield" Rifle-Musket, bayonet, belt, bayonet scabbard, cap box, cartridge box, haversack

and canteen. These weigh 13 1/2 pounds. In addition, you will be expected to carry five pounds

of ammunition. From the list of personal items, decide what else you will take with you on your

marches. Answers will vary.

List of Personal Items

Item                Weight of Item               (X) Quantity                 (=) Total Weight

Pants                       1 lb.                               ________                      ________

Forage cap             1/2 lb.                             ________                      ________

Shirt                       1/2 lb.                               ________                    ________

Jacket                     3 lbs.                                 ________                    ________

Socks                    1/2 lb. (pair)                      ________                     ________

Shoes                      2 lbs.                             ________                        ________

Cup                          1/4 lb.                         ________                         ________

Utensils                 1/4 lb.                              ________                       ________

Cooking Pan           1 lb.                             ________                        ________

Canteen                  4 lbs.                            ________                         ________

Soap                       1/4 lb.                           ________                        ________

Shaving razor         1/4 lb.                         ________                           ________

Comb                      1/8 lb.                       ________                             ________

Blanket                    3 lbs.                          ________                         ________

Candle                   1/4 lb.                         ________                          ________

Playing Cards           1/8 lb.                       ________                        ________               

Bible                        1/2 lb.                         ________                        ________

Stationery                1/4 lb.                          ________                       ________

"Dog" Tent            12 lbs.                           ________                      ________ 

Knife                      1/4 lb.                         ________                          ________                

Coat                       4 lbs.                          ________                          ________ 

Rifle, cartridges, etc. required by Army                                                            + 18 lbs.   



                                                                                TOTAL WEIGHT ________________



How much are you going to carry? If you would like, use a scale, backpack, and weights

(books?) and load your total weight into a backpack and walk around the room to see what it

would feel like to be a common soldier on the march. (Imagine marching 20 miles with that

weight on your shoulders).



Homework:  Students will need to have the activity sheet answered in order to recive a grade or credit for the activity.


Extension:   To go above and beyond on this assignment, students could answer the following questions for a follow up:

1.  What would you select to leave behind if you were on a forced march to get to a battlefield?

2.  What motive was there for the average soldier to carry stationary?

3.  What conclusion can you draw from the photos of a Civil War soldier and the modern day soldier?


Assessment: no assessment.

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