How Much   Do You Know About…  The Civil War?

April 17, 2017

civilwarimageBoth Whitman and Dickinson, subjects of Scott Pett’s upcoming class “Whitman and Dickinson”, were profoundly affected by the Civil War, so we put together a quiz on that time period!

1. One-third of the soldiers who fought for the Union Army were:

A. African Americans.
B. Immigrants.
C. From the South.

2. In the 1860′s, the custom was that a woman should spend a minimum of how much time in mourning?

A. 2 Years.
B. 3 Months.
C. 5 Years.

3. During the same time period, the custom was that a man should spend a minimum of how much time in mourning?

A. 2 Years.
B. 1 Year.
C. 3 Months.

4. Surgeons never washed their hands after operating. Why?

A. They believed all blood was the same.
B. They were worried about water cleanliness.
C. Blood was considered an antiseptic.

5. Most of the battles and wars of the Civil War were fought in what state?

A. Virginia.
B. Tennessee.
C. Missouri.

6. More men died in the Civil War from:

A. Disease.
B. Battlefield Fighting.
C. Friendly Fire.

7. Who was fifty percent more likely to die on  Civil War battlefields?

A. African American soldiers.
B. Privates.
C. Generals.

8. What was used routinely during the Civil War to fight illnesses and disorders?

A. Maggots.
B. Leeches.
C. Glasses with colored lenses.


1. B.  The Union Army was a multicultural force—even a multinational one. We often hear about Irish soldiers (7.5 percent of the army), but the Union’s ranks included even more Germans (10 percent), who marched off in regiments such as the Steuben Volunteers. Other immigrant soldiers were French, Italian, Polish, English and Scottish. In fact, one in four regiments contained a majority of foreigners.

2. A. When a woman mourned for her husband in the 1860’s, she spent a minimum of two-and-a-half years in mourning.  That meant few social activities: no parties, no outings, no visitors, and having to wear only black clothes.

3. C. The husband, when mourning for his wife, however, spent three months in a black suit.

4. A. Surgeons never washed their hands after an operation, because all of the blood was assumed to be the same.

5. C.  Of all the battles and skirmishes fought during the American Civil War, 11% were fought in the state of Missouri. During 1861, there were more battles and skirmishes in Missouri than in any other state, and throughout the entire war only Virginia and Tennessee saw more action than the state of Missouri.

6. A. More men died in the Civil War than any other American conflict, and two-thirds of the dead perished from disease. Approximately 625,000 men died in the Civil War, more Americans than in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. If the names of the Civil War dead were arranged like the names on the Vietnam Memorial, it would stretch over 10 times the wall’s length. Two percent of the population died, the equivalent of 6 million men today. Rifles were by far the war’s deadliest weapons, but deadlier still was disease. In 1861, as armies massed, men once protected from contagion by isolation marched shoulder to shoulder and slept side by side in unventilated tents. Camps became breeding grounds for childhood diseases such as mumps, chicken pox and measles. One million Union soldiers contracted malaria, and epidemics were common.

7. C. Robert E. Lee’s impulse to personally lead a counterattack during the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864 (his troops held him back) would not have surprised his men if he were a bit lower in rank. That’s because many top officers, including generals, literally led their troops into battle, a rare occurrence in modern wars. For this reason, generals were 50 percent more likely to die in combat than privates. At the Battle of Antietam alone, three generals were killed and six wounded—on each side.

8. C. During the Civil War, glasses with colored lenses were used to treat disorders and illnesses. Glasses with yellow lenses were used to treat syphilis, blue lenses were used to treat insanity, and pink lenses were used to treat depression. This is where the expression “see the world through rose-colored glasses” comes from.