Surviving during the Civil War

Our ancestors – not just the ones in the military – but those at home – North or South side, had to survive those four years of war at home (1861-1865). It was not easy, some areas suffered more than others. Here are some of the problems during wartime and how our ancestors tried to make the best of what was happening.

With the needs of the armies coming first, the home front suffered from a lack of enough supplies, whether they lived on a farm or in a town. Farmer laborers were in the military, there were blockades of ports and roads, all stopping needed supplies.

Getting enough food was the main problem. Soldiers in the north did get some salt beef and pork plus coffee and sugar. Southern soldiers had cornbread, maybe some mule meat, and rice flavored with molasses. Southern soldiers and residents in their homes also came up with ‘slapjack batter’ – a thick mixture of flour or cornmeal fried in bacon grease in a skillet then it was flipped to cook the other side. The Southern armies and residents also missed their coffee to drink. The Union side did get in the needed coffee beans.

You can imagine how little food the Union prisoners in Southern prison camps got – nearly nothing – the reason so many Union prisoners died. The slaves still held in the South also did not do well without enough food. Those who lived up North or escape to the North fared better.

Both sides of the conflict needed more soldiers – so there were thousands of ‘child soldiers and sailors’. About one-fifth of all military personnel were under age 18 and more than 100,000 soldiers in the Union Army were age 15 or less. So being a child did not save a person from being in an army and having to survive.

Ladies left alone or elderly folks on both sides had to care for themselves with the able-bodied men off to the war. All our ancestors suffered during those years.

Photo: Men preparing small meals.

Related Blogs:

Civil War Wounds

African-Americans Serving the Civil War

Ancestors in the Civil War

< Return To Blog My dad told me the story of his grandma being a little girl during the Civil War in Kentucky. They fed some soldiers coming through and a soldier gave her a $1 coin. I'm sure her family appreciated that money greatly.
Sara N Martin 21/10/21

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