Early in the war men were quick to volunteer for military service and eager to fight:

“The Col. came around to each company telling them that ours was considered the best volunteer regiment in the United States! that we must take care of our legs, or they might carry us off when we received the first fire, that we were not surgeons, and therefore must leave any one who falls by our side alone, and much other advice for our benefit...A few of the boys are unwell, but none will be left behind. We were all furnished with a new military, cloth cap this morning, and we are soldiers, playing a part in one of the greatest Revolutions America has ever seen. We will do our duty, if I do not mistake the spirit and pluck of the boys.”

According to a Union soldier in 1861
Volunteer regiments created some problems in the Union’s legal system; however, since they were not formed through the regular military channels, the regulations governing their conduct and terms of service were unclear. In a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the legality of volunteer enlistment contracts one newspaper reporter, Edward Stevens recorded:

“Mr. Coxe claimed the discharge on the ground that false inducements were held out, and that in no one particular had the Army Regulations been respected. Mr. Stanton for the government claimed that the Army Regulations did not apply to volunteers, and that while the government threw safeguards around the regular forces, the volunteer must look
out for himself.”

Quoted in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe (Henry Holt and Company, 1993.) 
Not only was a soldier most attached to his own regiment, but he was known to express contempt for anyone in a different unit. A Confederate soldier wrote:

“Tell old Bragg for God’s sake not to let the Yanks whip him as he usually does when this army gains a victory...If the armies of the West were worth a goober we could soon have piece on our own terms.”

Quoted in The Life of Johnny Reb by Bell Irvin Wiley (Louisiana State University Press, 1943.)

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