The Southern Confederate soldier was a tough character, and one of the finest warriors to ever take the field of battle in any army, in any war. The cause for which he fought and died has been harshly judged. But from the Confederate point of view, the harsh conditions and suffering were as noble as that of the Revolutionary War forefathers 100 years before them.
The Southern Soldier typically came from families who were not Plantation masters, but pioneers of the Southland who fully believed that their cause was to fight against a Northern Revolution hellbent on tearing apart the very fabric of their history and freedom.
That soldier knew that success depended on courage, endurance and devotion. He also knew that defeat came not just in wounded men on the battlefield, but also in the form of sickness, starvation, and death.
We can get a glimpse of the conditions of a soldier’s life from the the personal written accounts of Private Carlton McCarthy, Army of Northern Virginia:
Carlton tells us:
“…tents were rarely seen,” explaining that the men would put an oilcloth on the ground, covering themselves with blankets and another oilcloth on top. This protected them “through rain, snow or hail…”
The soldiers generally did without money: “The men did not expect, did not care for, or get often any pay, and they were not willing to deprive the old folks at home of their little supply.”
The men learned to travel light:
“No soldiers ever marched with less to encumber them, and none marched faster or held out longer. The courage and devotion of the men rose equal to every hardship and privation, and the very intensity of their sufferings became a source of merriment.”
“Instead of growling and deserting, they laughed at their own bare feet, ragged clothes and pinched faces, and weak, hungry, cold, wet, worried with vermin and itch, dirty, with no hope of reward or rest, but each fighting on his own personal account, needing not the voice of any to urge them on, marched cheerfully to meet the well fed and warmly clad hosts of the enemy.”
The Southern Soldier was one real tough cookie. He fought and died for what he believed in. If he didn’t, would our country be the same?