American Civil War for Kids - Comparison Typical Union and Confederate Soldiers
The South, The Gray, Confederate Soldiers: The typical Confederate soldier had no military discipline prior to enlisting in the Confederate army. For the most part, they were young, white, Southern born men who were fighting for a cause - that cause was their independence from Northern aggression. Although slavery certainly played a part in the causes of the Civil War, as many Southern leaders were also plantation owners, it is estimated that over 90% of Confederate army volunteers owned no slaves and owned no land of size. Their fight was not to preserve slavery, but to free the South from tyranny. That's why the South did not call this war the Civil War or the War Between the States, but rather the War of Northern Aggression. What these young Rebels wanted was to establish the South, the 11 states that had succeeded from the Union, as a separate country. It was not illegal to succeed from the Union until after the war. Most volunteers were poorly fed, poorly clothed, and poorly sheltered (typically only by a blanket.) They went without pay for months at a time. They worried about their families at home. They were outnumbered. Almost one-half of all Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or died from disease during the war. Yet, these young men continued to fight on, fired with the courage of a cause, the same cause their fathers and grandfathers had fought for during the American Revolution - that of independence.
The North, The Blue, Union Soldiers: Some men volunteered for the bounty, the cash they received to sign up. Others were looking for adventure. But the typical Union soldier was filled with intense patriotism. They felt the South was disgracing the flag. Unlike the Confederate army, which was made up of mostly Southern born white men, the Northern army was composed of native-born and immigrant men, along with soldiers of all races. In the beginning of the war, only about 80,000 men volunteered. By the end of the war, over 2 million men had volunteered. These volunteers gave the Union a huge advantage not only in numbers but in skills. There were men who could fix equipment, make weapons, repair railroads and supply routes, and build bridges and camps. Although conditions were often very rough, Union soldiers still were better fed, clothed, and sheltered than their Southern counterparts. Like the Confederate army, these volunteers were young and mostly unmarried. Like the Confederate army, they were fighting for a cause - a continuation of the cause for independence their fathers and grandfathers had fought for during the American Revolution - that of unification, to keep America strong and united, so America could maintain her independence from other countries.