A Life of Soldier

Life of a Soldier in the War of 1812 compared to Modern Day


The life of a soldier in the War of 1812 was very different during the war of 1812 compared to modern day. There were many aspects like uniforms, food, training, communication etc. In this newsletter I will be comparing these different aspects and more. In this newsletter you will be able to see the comparison.

Weapons in the War of 1812

The weapons used in the war of 1812 were knives, swords, bayonets, pistols, muskets, rifles, cannons and to a lesser extent, crude bombs. Among these different kinds of weapons, muskets and rifles with bayonets were the most used. It was considered as the weapons that won the battles between these two opposing armies. This is because most battles were frontal with wide distances between sides that would call for the use of muskets and rifles. During combat fighting, the weapons used in the war of 1812 were bayonets attached on muskets and riffles.

Weapons used ranged from firearms to swords. Some times these were even combined. There was the American Springfield Musket, British 3rd Model Brown Bess Musket, British Baker Rifle, British Sea Service Musket and British New Land Cavalry Pistol. These were most of the popularly used fire arms during the war. Now moving onto swords, there was the, American Eagle Head Officers Sword, British 1796 Infantry Officer's Sword, British 1796 Sergeant and Drummer's Swords, British 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre

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British New Land Cavalry Pistol

Uniforms in the War of 1812

Red was the main color of the British uniform because it was the official color of the Royal livery. If a regiment had “royal” in its title, the facings on the uniform (usually the collar, cuffs and hem) would be blue to match the facing color of the Royal livery. Most cases, colors of the uniform and facings depended on the livery of the colonel of the regiment (example: Glengarry Regiment, wore green). Braid, lace, buttons, buttonholes, button spacing varied on which unit/regiment a soldier belonged to. In the 1812, American soldiers wore outfits consisting of shirts, waistcoats, coats, and breeches or pantaloons. Shirts were made of cotton with stiff, standing collars, and worn with ties called cravats or stocks. Waistcoats were vests that were visible over the shirt, and under the jacket. Suit coats were cut to the waist in the front, and were either cut squarely or curved in the rear, making tails.

Food in the War of 1812

They were given hard “crackers”, also known as Hard tack made with flour, salt, and water. Soldiers called them teeth duller. This gave the soldiers a feeling of being full. Salted pork, bacon, or beef soaked with potassium nitrate (salt of potassium ions) was given.Fruits (occasionally given), coffee and tea were usually offered to officers in higher rank. Potato stew and a chunk of bread consisted in their daily diet. Milk and butter was rare, yet again usually offered to prestigious officers.

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Hard tack


There weren’t even basic forms of antibiotics, hence and wound on a certain body part (especially limbs) would have to be amputated.

Day in the Life

Soldier were expected to get up at 3:30 am in the morning, 2 hours before sunrise. Soldiers would get out of their berths (beds). Comb their hair, wash their face, neck arms and ears. They had to clean and sweep their rooms. As soon as it was a little light outside, the first morning parade was called at 4:15 am. Every soldier not on guard duty turned out with the sounds of the drummers playing the “Troop”. Wearing their uniform which entailed a short white wool jacket, forage cap, and trousers. An inspection was made on the men’s attire and their cleanliness. Anyone missing from the ranks was immediately noticed and reported. After the morning inspection, the rest of the soldiers went off to their assigned duties. If you were a tailor, you would be assembling or altering the regiment’s new clothing or mending the old. Some soldiers with construction experience went on work detail, cutting trees for fuel, or repairing the garrison’s roads. Those on this duty received a little extra pay and a ration. At 9:00 am soldiers sat down for breakfast. At eleven o’clock, the full dress parade was called, with the “Troop” again being played, and those not on work details fell in. Arms and accouterments were inspected and then the men were dismissed. The rest of the day went on in combat training.

Weapons used in Modern Day

The basics of basics are the small arms weapons used by the individual army man. M16A2 Rifle is the standard issue rifle. It's carried by every soldier in a combat zone. Most people simply call it the M-16. Useful as a general assault weapon. The rifle is lightweight and simple to operate. The M16A2 rifle is a air-cooled, gas-operated designed for either automatic fire or semiautomatic fire through the use of a selector lever. The weapon has a fully adjustable rear sight. The M-4 combat assault rifle first entered Army service in 1997. The rifle is the standard weapon used by some Army units. The M24 Sniper's Weapon System (SWS) represents a return to bolt action sniper rifles by the US Army. M40A1 Sniper Rifle, is the preferred sniper rifle for the U.S. Marine Corps. Then there are the M-240 Machine Gun and M-249 SAW. There are many more, but these are the most popular.

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M16A2 Riffle

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M-4 combat assault rifle

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M40A1 Sniper Rifle

Uniforms worn in Modern Day

The U.S. Army uses the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), which blends tan, gray and green (Desert Sand 500, Urban Gray 501 and Foliage Green 502) to work equally in badlands, woodland, and urban environments. The ACU (American Combat Uniform) jacket uses hook-and-loop-backed attachments to secure items such as name tapes, rank insignia, and shoulder patches and tabs, as well as recognition devices such as the U.S. flag patch. The ACU trouser is worn with a two-inch nylon web belt, and features Velcro pouches for knee pad inserts, two forward-tilted thigh storage pockets with elastic drawstring and Velcro for closure during movement, and two calf storage pockets one on each pant leg with a Velcro closure. Typically, the ACU is worn with the Advanced Combat Helmet, a patrol cap, or a hat and/or fleece cap as appropriate in winter months. The patrol cap is a kepi-styled straight-sided, flat-topped soft cap, with a double thick bill and internal pocket. When in garrison, the maroon, tan, and green berets may be worn by paratroops, Army Rangers etc. The ACU is worn with a moisture absorbing sand colored T-shirt. A foliage green T-shirt, which is 100% cotton, has been authorized for wear by soldiers and for some training environments or deployed soldiers. The ACU is worn with tan combat boots and olive coloured cotton socks.

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Food in Modern Day

Entrée: Chili w/beans, spaghetti or beef stew, veggie burger in BBQ sauce, chicken fajita tortilla, etc.
  • Side dish: Rice, corn, dried fruit, or mashed potatoes, crackers or bread
  • Spread: peanut butter, jelly, or cheese
  • Dessert: cookies or pound cakes, chocolate pudding

  • Candy: M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls
  • Beverages: Gatorade-like mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, tea
  • Medication

    Battlefield medicine, also called field surgery and later combat casualty care, is the treatment of wounded soldiers and non-combatants in or near an area of combat. Civilian medicine has been greatly advanced by procedures that were first developed to treat the wounds inflicted during combat. The soldiers are usually trained about TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care).

    TCCC is built around three definitive phases of casualty care:

    1. Care Under Fire: Care rendered at the scene of the injury while both the medic and the casualty are under hostile fire. Available medical equipment is limited to that carried by each operator and the medic. This stage focuses on a quick assessment, and placing a tourniquet on any major bleed.
    2. Tactical Field Care: Rendered once the casualty is no longer under hostile fire. Medical equipment is still limited to that carried into the field by mission personnel. Time prior to evacuation may range from a few minutes to many hours. Care here may include advanced airway treatment, IV therapy, etc. The treatment rendered varies depending on the skill level of the provider as well as the supplies available. This is when a corpsman/medic will make triage and evacuation decision.
    3. Tactical Evacuation Care (TACEVAC): Rendered while the casualty is evacuated to a higher echelon of care. Any additional personnel and medical equipment pre-staged in these assets will be available during this phase.

    Day in the Life

    Soldiers wake up early in the morning at 4:30, clean themselves up, make their beds and have a commander come by and inspect their rooms. Then they begin with their early morning running courses and circuit training. After that they have their regular breakfast and then they proceed to going to their classes (math, science, combat strategy etc.). After their classes they proceed to lunch. After lunch, the soldiers then proceed to rigorous combat training which involves learning how to fire a weapon. Alongside the rigorous combat training soldiers will also do very difficult strength building activities. Then after 6-7 hours of combat training soldiers proceed to the dinning hall for dinner. After dinner soldiers are given 1 hour of free time before it is lights out!