Civil War Camp Life
Sutlers, Sex and Scoundrels
Written by Gloria Sananes Stein
The Civil War, the most disastrous war in American History, almost destroyed a generation of young men. Disparities in resources and technology between North and South highlighted the conflict. Haphazardly recruited, inadequately trained, poorly clothed and malnourished they perished in battle.
An undisciplined, unskilled corps of soldiers not only faced an enemy, but waged a personal battle for survival. They foraged for food and stole what they could get their hands on. Those who could scrape up money supplemented meager rations provided by travelling sutlers, at exorbitant prices.
Between battles, soldiers, consumed by boredom, wrestled, played games and gambled. Many stooped to excessive gambling, heavy drinking and acts of mischief. Prostitution thrived, and venereal disease was rampant.
The Civil War united the nation, freed the dispossessed from slavery and gradually moved the country closer to Lincoln’s ideal: “Malice toward none and charity for all.”
Paperback, 120 pages