Shoeless Confederate Boy - I Died In The Trenches Of Fort Mahone At Petersburg
The role that harsh conditions played on the number of desertions in the Confederate army made its greatest impact during the last winter of the Civil War. One Confederate soldier gives insight to the “shelter” used to protect him and others during the winter months. “Our winter quarters were made up of barrels, boxes, or any other material that could be had, and held in place with daubs of mud”. In order to protect themselves from incoming fire, Confederate soldiers often remained in trenches they had dug for quite some time, and the majority of them were barefoot.
These men would march several miles a day through strenuous mountains in either the blistering hot or freezing cold; thus, their energy level would be shot due to lack of nourishment. After being forced to walk, Confederate soldiers were often given the task of shoveling ditches or trenches for protection, which would cause many to pass out due to exhaustion and starvation. Confederate soldiers in Western North Carolina were underfed, underpaid, left in the cold, and expected to fight without shoes on their feet or a weapon in their hands. Adding to the personal reasons on the home front for deserting, Confederate soldiers found that desertion was the only outlet to alleviate their suffering. Soldiers that had been conscripted or joined after switching from Union ideologies were already prime candidates for desertion, based on the fact that they had literally been dragged into the army.
For an army to force individuals to fight for their cause, and in return not even give them the basic necessities for proper survival seems to make desertion inevitable for these men. If the Confederate army wished for men to fully commit to their cause and fight for the south properly, then they should have seen to it that their funding was enough to pay their soldiers, and provide them with all the tools needed to be healthy and protected. The Confederate army failed these men, thus, in return, the soldiers that deserted failed their country.
Source: Jones, Carroll C. The 25th North Carolina Troops in the Civil War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009 Colorization MadsMadsen @zuzahgaming http://zuzahgaming.minus.com/ And http://history.ncsu.edu/projects/cwnc/exhibits/show/rationale-for-desertion/grim-living-situations