I know that most of the folks who frequent this board are cognizant of what a civil war soldiers daily life was like. And I myself had a very broad "over view'. I have ancestors who served in the 8th, 11th, 28th, 36th and 43rd Alabama Infantry, respectively. Although I've been researching this subject for 8 years, EXTENSIVELY I thought..I found very recently that while books may be absolutely wonderful---live demonstrations absolutely top the bill.
I didn't (and still don't) know a whole heck of alot about the mechanics of 19th century war fare. It was bloody, it was awful and a whole lot of folks died--north and south. End of mechanics. But I attended a Civil War expo in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. this last weekend and I was lucky enough to come upon a lady and a gentleman "in camp" who showed me a few things. Like the typical gun which most southern men carried and used during the first part of the war.
I wouldn't know smooth bore from rifled--although I've heard and read the term...but this particular gun had ball, powder, ramrod and bayonet (unsure of the spelling). The point being, he was obviously taking his time, showing me what went where, and how you rammed the ball and powder down the barrel-where the cap went etc. The thing that absolutely AMAZED me was this---he said that a civil war soldier could fire this complicated bit of weaponry THREE times in a minute? While someone else was tossing lead (errrr..minnie balls) at HIM? Are you serious right now? Evidently he was. And since I have no reason to doubt him, my conclusion is that Most if not all of those men had nerves of steel. And a LOT more coordination than I may ever aspire to. And then he showed me how these same men used their bayonets as candle holders--stuck them in the ground, put a candle stub in the barrel ring and viola!! Light for bedding down or writing a letter---or sewing on a button. From the desperate to the mundane. For weeks or months or YEARS they did this!!!
Heroes for the ages, they were. And when you have genetics from men like these? Should kinda make rush hour traffic look trivial, huh?