Senses of the Civil War

Experience the Civil War through the Five Senses

Although nearly 150 years have passed since the closing of the deadliest war in American history, you still may hear, smell, see, taste, and touch many of the same things soldiers of the war experienced.  Sip a cup of scalding coffee, listen to the sharp crackle of a comforting fire, and smell the pungent scent of cut pine as you immerse yourself into the Civil War.


Click on each of the five senses below to begin your journey through the daily experiences of Civil War soldiers, and then be sure to try to replicate the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings at the next opportunity.

Sight »

You can experience many of the same places Civil War soldiers would have seen in their battles and marches.

Sound »

Listen to many of the same sounds soldiers encountered in fighting and in camp life.

Smell »

Experience both the savory and unsavory scents soldiers smelled during the war.

Taste »

Re-create many of the same foods soldiers ate.

Touch »

You can feel a variety of the same objects and materials soldiers interacted with in their everyday life. 

Smell of Battle

Want to find out more about the sensory experience of the Civil War?  Try Mark Smith's The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege!

"Recovering the human experience of the Civil War is difficult with even the best literary sources-which makes Mark M. Smith's exploration of the conflict's sensory landscape especially valuable. From the cramped interior of the submarine Hunley to the grim living conditions among the besieged population of Vicksburg, Smith brings readers into a world of sights, smells, and sounds that add texture to our understanding of the nation's transformative trauma." --Gary W. Gallagher

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