Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Civil War Military Terms Explained

Sometimes you need an explanation of military terms.

A company was a Civil War military unit that was supposed to have 100 men, but usually had only about 50.  A company was commanded by a captain and some lieutenants.  Several companies together made up a battalion, and several battalions made up a regiment, commanded by a colonel.  A Civil War Regiment was supposed to have about 1,000 men, but usually had less than half that.

Larger units were divisions, corps (pronounced "core"), and armies.  In the Civil War, the soldiers elected their officers from lieutenants through colonel.

Ordnance is any material of war, usually ammunition.  The ordnance train was most often a wagon train of supplies.

Claude Etienne MiniƩ (1804-1879)
A minie ball was the bullet used in muzzle-loading rifles.  Named for its French inventor "Claude Etienne MiniĆ©", it had a conical base that made the lead bullet expand when it was fired.  It was often 58 caliber -- or about 1/2" wide. (It is pronounced like "Minnie" Mouse.) 

A flank is the side of a line of soldiers, where the soldiers' firepower is the weakest.  To "outflank" is to attack on the side.