OAH Home Donate to OAH Join the OAH

Programs & Resources


Unidentified Confederate soldier

Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-37159.

This 1861 photo shows an unidentified member of the Eleventh Virginia Infantry Volunteers. Many Southern men were motivated to join the Rebel army by their commitments to Confederate ideology and to defend their homes. The Confederate army comprised nearly 1 million soldiers, while another six thousand joined the Southern navy. Within Rebel ranks, men from slaveholding families were overrepresented. Few of these young men had previous military experience and thus were eager to “see the elephant,” as they dubbed armed combat. Since most expected the war to conclude quickly, long, arduous campaigns prompted soldiers to reconsider their original commitment to the war effort.