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In Their Own Words

November 03, 1861

Hardships of Army Life Described in Civil War Letter

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his family, describing the hardships suffered by many soldiers.

“…I have plenty to eat, yet the life of a soldier is a hard one. The weather is now and has been for ten days very cold, and it rains about every other day. On day before yesterday I had to take 30 men and stand picket guard some three miles from camp for twenty-four hours a day and night without fire, and it raining and sleeting all the time. These are hardships that all soldiers have to undergo. And when we are relieved from duty, we have no comfortable room with a fireplace to go to and dry or put on dry clothes, but have either to go to our tent that is damp and wet and go to sleep in this fix or stand around a fire outdoors in the cold and rain. So while you are all at home where you can keep dry with a good room, fire and bed to sleep in, you should feel grateful and take care of everything as your Father is undergoing these hardships and dangers that you might remain at home and be comfortable as you are. …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 81.