Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank / The Average Soldier

Marker ID:  
Location: 1368 Eastern Flank Cir, Franklin, TN
County: Williamson
Coordinates: N 35° 54.46    W 086° 51.677
  35.90766666    -86.86128333
Waymark: None


Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank
The Average Soldier

Whether in the Union or Confederate ranks, the typical Civil War soldier at Franklin came from a rural world. More than likely, he lived in the countryside or in a town about the size of Franklin, which had a population of about 750 at the time.

The average soldier was in his mid-twenties, stood about 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters) tall, and weighed about 145 pounds. The threadbare Confederates at Franklin likely weighed less, as they had just finished a long wintery trek from Alabama on limited rations. Some famished men later recalled eating pumpkins on their way here, as frigid rains and snow sapped their reserves. In contrast, the Federal supply system was far more reliable, but the Union solders also had to race here from Georgia and elsewhere, trudging as many as 20 miles (32 km) per day.

Few soldiers had more than six years of formal education. About 90 percent of Northern men could read and write, as could 80 percent of Southern soldiers. Although the average soldier lived in an age of immigration, he was likely born in America. Less than 5 percent of Confederates came from overseas. About a fourth of Northern soldiers were foreign-born, mostly of Irish, German, or Scandinavian origins.

Unquestionably, he served in a geographically broad-based army. The Union’s Army of the Cumberland hailed most from the Midwest, but it also had units from Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The South’s Army of Tennessee consisted of regiments and batteries from every state in the Confederacy. It also included units from Missouri and Kentucky.

Erected Tennessee Civil War Trails.

[This marker may also be found on HMDB.org]