Fourscore and seven years ago . . .
Now we are engaged in a great civil war,
testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,
can long endure.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. . . .
Abraham Lincoln - Address at Gettysburg, November 19 1863
The following are notes that I have gleaned from the book The Civil War Infantryman by Gregory A. Coco.
- Civil War had begun on April 12 1861 with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
- August 20 1866 saw the official end to the War of the Rebellion by proclamation of President Andrew Johnson
- The average height of Americans between 1860 and 1865 was 5' 8-1/4"
- Weight records indicated that the average was 143-1/2 pounds
- Color of hair, complexion, and eyes varied, but the most common was a "light" complexion, blue eyes, and brown to light hair
- The median soldier was 25.8 years old during the war
- Parental or guardian's permission to enlist under the age of 18 was required
- In a group of 14,00 Federals the rosters included 3 who were 12 when they enlisted, 12 who were 13, 3 who were 14, and 31 who were 15 years of age.
- A typical company at full strength appeared "on paper" as:
1 Captain 8 Corporals
1 First Lieutenant 2 Musicians
1 Second Lieutenant 1 Wagoner
1 First Sergeant 82 Privates
- Ten companies of the regiment were lettered as A,B,C, D, through K. "J" was not used due to its resemblance to the letter "I".
- All of the first calls for enlistments came as volunteers.
- The draft was not instituted in the North until March 3, 1863
- Of approx. 3,500,000 men who entered Union or Confederate service between 1861 and 1865, about 170,000 were drafted by the United States and possibly 100,000 by the secessionist states.
- The Union army accepted 178,000 enlistments of free blacks or former slaves.
- The conscription law was not absolute in either armed force during the war. There was always the opportunity for a drafted man to hire a substitute. As long as a man was mustered it did not matter how he was obtained. Consequently, in the U.S. a conscript could hire a substitute or pay the government a fee, (usually about $300) as commutation of service, a practice prohibited after February, 1864.
- Pay rate was $13.00 a month, raised to $16 in 1864
- ...a man proposing to enter the service might count on as much as $500 to $1500 in cash, a significant sum in 1863
- Scores of mustering centers were located throughout, usually near the larger population areas
- In the Union army the government allowed $42 annually per man as a clothing issue. If the soldier did not overdraw this allowance, he received the balance in cash at the end of each year.
Example: white shirt $1.30; pair of socks 22 cents; pair of shoes $1.05, pair of drawers 90 cents; one cap 58 cents; one coat $2.40
Officers were required to purchase their own clothing rather than receive a government issue.