Slang has always been with us. There is civilian slang and military slang and they are often totally different words for the same things. Here is a collection of common slang terms used by soldiers in the civil war.

accoutrements- A soldier’s fighting equipments, made of leather.
a beat- A lazy soldier who dodges work.
bombproof- An underground shelter, used also to describe officers who never went to the front.
bones- Dice.
buck and gag- A form of punishment.
carriage- The wooden mount for artillery, also used to describe a lady’s shape.
dogrobber- The soldier of a group who cooks for everyone else.
dog tent- A small, two-man tent.
first rate- Feeling well and very happy.
forage- To search for food from nearby farms.
Fresh Fish- New recruits.
greenbacks- Money or script.
gum blanket- Rubber-coated cloth sheet used as a rain cover.
haversack- Cloth bag for carrying the rations & utensils.
homespun- A clothing item made of home-spun cloth.
housewife- A sewing kit.
horse sense- Smart or to use good sense.
Johnny- Union soldier’s term for a Confederate soldier.
Jonah- A soldier who always brought misfortune and bad luck with him.
paper collar man- Someone who has money or is financially well off.
picket- A guard or guard duty.
sacred soil- Virginia mud.
sawbones- The surgeon of the regiment.
seeing the elephant- A man’s first experience in combat.
shebang- A temporary shelter of poles & branches.
shirker- A soldier who would not do his duty on the battlefield.
smart like a fox- Slick and cunning.
tough as a knot- In good health.
top rail- The best place to be. Number One!
vittles- food or rations.
Yank- Confederate soldier’s term for a Union soldier.

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