A.P. Hoadley and his fellow recruits became soldiers, one of their
first challenges was adjusting to a strange new life outdoors. Suddenly,
they were required to cook their own meals over open fires and sleep
in tents, month after month--spring, summer, and fall--sharing close
quarters with complete strangers.
The Union and Confederate armies used a variety of tents throughout
the War. At the beginning of the conflict, both sides preferred
the Sibley tent , a tall canvas structure supported
by a single pole and shaped like a wigwam. The Sibley was designed
for twelve men, who slept with their feet at the center, arranged
in a circle like the spokes of a wheel.
Gradually, the Sibley gave way to smaller, less expensive tents
that were easier to transport and raise. At Camp Curtin A.P. Hoadley
slept with four other men in a wedge tent , which was
nothing more than a six-foot length of canvas draped over a horizontal
pole and staked to the ground at both sides. With the tent flaps
closed against the cold, sleeping was often a cramped and uncomfortable
affair. Sometimes quarters were so tight that the men were forced
to line up like spoons and when one soldier rolled over, the rest
had no choice but to follow suit.
The dog tent was even smaller, used by soldiers when
they were on the march. Each man carried a half-shelter and chose
a tent-mate, who carried the other half. When troops halted for
the evening, the half-shelters were buttoned together and strung
between two muskets with bayonets, providing just enough room for
the two men to crawl underneath. One Federal soldier wrote that
the structure must have been called a dog tent because "it
would only comfortably accommodate a dog, and a small one at that."
As the colder months approached and the lulls between battles grew
longer, officers gave their men permission to "go into winter
quarters." With axes over their shoulders, the soldiers fanned
out across the countryside in search of wood. Those who could find
enough logs built crude cabins. They chinked the cracks with mud
and made roofs from oilcloths, pine boughs, or whatever building
materials they could scavenge from local farmers.
Most men were happy to fill restless hours designing furniture for
their new homes. Ammunition chests and stumps became tables and
chairs. Pine needles and leaves were used for stuffing mattresses.
Old food barrels made excellent chimneys, funneling smoke from the
rough stone fireplaces below. And for the final touch, many soldiers
christened their new homes with entertaining names like "Buzzard's
Roost," "Swine Hotel," and "Devil's Inn."