Boredom In The Camp - Discoveries from Vicksburg campaign sites

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Tom Hughes

Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
1.JPG

When soldiers weren't marching, drilling or fighting, they utilized time on their hands by making objects to help them pass the time away.
By flattening out musket balls, they were able to make poker chips or game pieces. Notice the piece on the far left of the photo on the top. It looks to have been flattened by placing on a railroad track.

16.JPG

A single flattened musket ball probably used as a gaming piece or poker chip.

3.JPG

Here's a flattened musket ball with a hole in the top for suspension.

4.JPG

3 ring minie balls that have been intentionally flattened out. Purpose unknown except for maybe amusement.

6.JPG

Minie balls that appear to have been carved into chess pieces. Some diggers have found some really intricately carved chess pieces.
These, however, appear to be more simple.
Carving and whittling was a common practice among the youth of the day. Carving a soft metal like lead made for an ideal medium for their art.

14.JPG

Another interesting carved piece. This one was carved from an Enfield bullet.

11.JPG

The musket ball on the left has the letter "W" carved on it.
The Enfield bullet on the right has an "X" carved on it.

7.JPG

Lead that has been fashioned into pencils or writing implements.


5.JPG

Bullets fashioned into fishing weights. When soldiers camped near large rivers or lakes that would've supported fish populations, I'm sure
the hope of catching and eating fresh fish was better than what was on the menu in the camp.

9.jpg

Here's a copper wire that has been fashioned into a fishing hook.

10.JPG

Nothing like a dice game in the camp.

2.JPG

Here are two brass objects that have been carved out of sheet brass available in the camp:
On the left is a star device (popular with Texas and Mississippi troops).
On the right appears to be a Christian cross (note the hole in the center for attachment).

13.JPG

Bullets cut in two.

12.JPG

Here's an interesting little relic. It's a small lead piece that has been chewed into the shape of a button.
Many lead objects were chewed by animals, but in the case of this relic it has been chewed by human teeth
with great detail.

Thanks for viewing a portion of my collection on lead and brass items that had been utilized by soldiers to relieve the boredom of camp life.
We can learn a lot about their activities in camp during the civil war years. One thing is for certain, people haven't changed much!

View attachment 342930
 
Last edited:
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alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Month
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Great post, Tom!

However, I noticed you did not post a picture of the most artistic lead carving that you have found at a campsite - and understandably so. Civil War Talk does not have an X-rated thread. But suffice it to say that ****ography and art existed during the war!! It is one of my favorite items in your collection though!! But I understand why you can’t post it!!
 

Tom Hughes

Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
Great post, Tom!

However, I noticed you did not post a picture of the most artistic lead carving that you have found at a campsite - and understandably so. Civil War Talk does not have an X-rated thread. But suffice it to say that ****ography and art existed during the war!! It is one of my favorite items in your collection though!! But I understand why you can’t post it!!
My wife also asked why I didn't post it...Heck, I might post it up anyway.
Is there any interest in me doing so? Would anyone be offended?
 
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Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Great post, Tom!

However, I noticed you did not post a picture of the most artistic lead carving that you have found at a campsite - and understandably so. Civil War Talk does not have an X-rated thread. But suffice it to say that ****ography and art existed during the war!! It is one of my favorite items in your collection though!! But I understand why you can’t post it!!
Those XXX pieces seem to be one of the most popular carved pieces found in almost every camp, kids haven't changed over 150+ years......
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
View attachment 342918
When soldiers weren't marching, drilling or fighting, they utilized time on their hands by making objects to help them pass the time away.
By flattening out musket balls, they were able to make poker chips or game pieces. Notice the piece on the far left of the photo on the top. It looks to have been flattened by placing on a railroad track.

View attachment 342919
A single flattened musket ball probably used as a gaming piece or poker chip.

View attachment 342920
Here's a flattened musket ball with a hole in the top for suspension.

View attachment 342921
3 ring minie balls that have been intentionally flattened out. Purpose unknown except for maybe amusement.

View attachment 342922
Minie balls that appear to have been carved into chess pieces. Some diggers have found some really intricately carved chess pieces.
These, however, appear to be more simple.
Carving and whittling was a common practice among the youth of the day. Carving a soft metal like lead made for an ideal medium for their art.

View attachment 342924
Another interesting carved piece. This one was carved from an Enfield bullet.

View attachment 342925
The musket ball on the left has the letter "W" carved on it.
The Enfield bullet on the right has an "X" carved on it.

View attachment 342926
Lead that has been fashioned into pencils or writing implements.


View attachment 342928
Bullets fashioned into fishing weights. When soldiers camped near large rivers or lakes that would've supported fish populations, I'm sure
the hope of catching and eating fresh fish was better than what was on the menu in the camp.

View attachment 342932
Here's a copper wire that has been fashioned into a fishing hook.

View attachment 342934
Nothing like a dice game in the camp.

View attachment 342935
Here are two brass objects that have been carved out of sheet brass available in the camp:
On the left is a star device (popular with Texas and Mississippi troops).
On the right appears to be a Christian cross (note the hole in the center for attachment).

View attachment 342936
Bullets cut in two.

View attachment 342937
Here's an interesting little relic. It's a small lead piece that has been chewed into the shape of a button.
Many lead objects were chewed by animals, but in the case of this relic it has been chewed by human teeth
with great detail.

Thanks for viewing a portion of my collection on lead and brass items that had been utilized by soldiers to relieve the boredom of camp life.
We can learn a lot about their activities in camp during the civil war years. One thing is for certain, people haven't changed much!

View attachment 342930
Great collection!
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Had a friend in the Army that used to test new products and devices madce by civilian contractors wanting to sell such to the military. He was once presented with an all-metal type-writing machine for use by Army Security Agency morse code intercept operators when copying foreign nations military morse code traffic. The older, manual typewriters, called "mills" were often broken by hard use, or more often than not, by bored operators playing with them when radio traffic was slow.

The new machine was electric powered and all metal, to include the keys on the board itself, "unbreakable" the civilian contractor said. And with that challenge, my friend said he could render the machine inoperable in ten seconds. The contractor said it was impossible. My friend asked the man to turn around for ten seconds and then come to the machine and begin typing on it, any words or phrases he pleased. The man did so and after ten seconds, turned back around and sat at the machine and began to type and found to his amazement, he could not get the space bar to operate! Words and numbers ran hopelessly together, presenting nothing but a garbled mess.

The civilian contractor looked up at my friend in defeat, noting he had no tools or objects to cause damage to the machine, and asked, "How did you break it?" It was then my friend picked up a pencil from a nearby desk and showed him that the eraser had been removed. He then showed him where he put it under the space bar of the machine, forcing it not to be depressed and space the messages/words/numbers correctly.

Then he told the man a great truth when it came to soldiers who were not kept busy or became bored with nothing to do.

"Put a Private, alone, out in the middle of the desert with an iron anvil and no other tools at all and then come back in a week."

"It will be broken."


Troops with nothing else to do and who get bored are some of the most dangerous people on earth to leave alone with any type of equipment. :wink:

Ask any First Sergeant, then or now.

Unionblue
 
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redbob

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
This was proven when the Marine Artillery Unit that I was a part of received hand me down FADAC machines from the Army and within 15 minutes we were back to sliderules and pencils.
 

redbob

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Had a friend in the Army that used to test new products and devices madce by civilian contractors wanting to sell such to the military. He was once presented with an all-metal type-writing machine for use by Army Security Agency morse code intercept operators when copying foreign nations military morse code traffic. The older, manual typewriters, called "mills" were often broken by hard use, or more often than not, by bored operators playing with them when radio traffic was slow.

The new machine was electric powered and all metal, to include the keys on the board itself, "unbreakable" the civilian contractor said. And with that challenge, my friend said he could render the machine inoperable in ten seconds. The contractor said it was impossible. My friend asked the man to turn around for ten seconds and then come to the machine and begin typing on it, any words or phrases he pleased. The man did so and after ten seconds, turned back around and sat at the machine and began to type and found to his amazement, he could not get the space bar to operate! Words and numbers ran hopelessly together, presenting nothing but a garbled mess.

The civilian contractor looked up at my friend in defeat, noting he had no tools or objects to cause damage to the machine, and asked, "How did you break it?" It was then my friend picked up a pencil from a nearby desk and showed him that the eraser had been removed. He then showed him where he put it under the space bar of the machine, forcing it not to be depressed and space the messages/words/numbers correctly.

Then he told the man a great truth when it came to soldiers who were not kept busy or became bored with nothing to do.

"Put a Private, alone, out in the middle of the desert with an iron anvil and no other tools at all and then come back in a week."

"It will be broken."


Troops with nothing else to do and who get bored are some of the most dangerous people on earth to leave alone with any type of equipment. :wink:

Ask any First Sergeant, then or now.

Unionblue
How very true.
 
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