01838 - Soldier's filling their water cart; Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1864 [LC-DIG-cwpb-01838]
"Cold and Snowstorm. Wood and water fatigue." John J. Fischer, 49th Regiment of NY Volunteers
To reach over and turn on the tap and see the flow of water is something that we expect today. During the Civil War, soldiers were assigned to find and retrieve water for the camp. Each day, men, horses, mules and the camp cooks needed water. At times, only warm, muddy stagnant water could be found.
Even when camped near a river or stream, water parties might have to travel some distance to find drinkable water that had not been fouled by the thousands of men and animals that were part of the camp.
Despite looking at the many pictures of the war depicting water barrels, it is hard to realize that it was literally someone’s job to find a source of fresh water and provide it the troops, in each place the army stopped - day after day after day.