Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

Fort Sedgwick, Battle of Petersburg, 1860s

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Fort Sedgwick, Battle of Petersburg, 1860s in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Fort Sedgwick, 1860s
Historical Context
Camp life was hard for both Union and Confederate soldiers. When not in battle, a soldier’s day started at 5 a.m. in the summer and 6 a.m. in the winter. The majority of the day was spent on drills. When not at drill, soldiers cleaned the camp, dug latrines, built fortifications and roads, and gathered wood for cooking and heating. Finding fresh water was also a constant goal.

A soldier would eat salted meats, canned vegetables, coffee, and hardtack. When the armies were marching or at battle, the supply trains could not always reach them to bring fresh supplies. Therefore the soldiers would have to forage for food.

Camp life was also boring. Soldiers passed the time by reading, writing letters, or playing cards or games like baseball and boxing.

Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of the Civil War on the lives of these soldiers.
Historical Challenges
What was Fort Sedgwick? Where was it located?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Draw a map of a Civil War camp and label the command headquarters, cavalry, enlisted men's tents, kitchen, laundry, and hospital.