Civil War Dominos & Playing Cards
Soldiers Playing Cards In Camp (Library of Congress)
During the war, soldiers enjoyed many idle hours in camp. Time was spent in repairing uniforms, writing letters, guard duty, fatigue duty, spiritual activities, and engaging in other pursuits, such as playing cards and dominos. It was common for soldiers to carry cards and dominos in their haversacks, knapsacks or pockets.
Playing cards of the period were plain, lacking numbers and markings on the face cards. Dominos were made of various materials including wood, bone and ivory.
Gambling and card playing were condemned by many chaplains on both sides as a violation of the Christian faith. Aided by families at home, chaplains and religious leaders tried to convince soldiers to end the practice. Some men took such persuasion to heart and divested themselves of their cards; others threw decks of cards away as they marched into battle, only to retrieve them later. Undoubtedly, many soldiers carried both playing cards and Bibles, a representation of the on-going battle in their minds between the sacred and secular worlds.
Image Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 30417 & 30433 Springfield-Greene County Library System