Soldier Life on Roanoke Island

By studying what the soldiers left behind here we can get a better understanding of how they lived.

Bottles found in Camp Reno. Crown Ale, Ginger Beer, Udolphowolfes Aromatic Shnapps, Rock-bridge Virginia Alum Water, C.C. Kewney & Co. Liverpool, Soda, Whitney Glass Works Patent Whiskey

Sutlers were civilians who owned  mobile grocery stores which sold food and merchandise to the soldiers when the troops camped in one place for an extended period of time. They accompanied some of the regiments to Roanoke Island as evidenced by the the large amount of bottles found in the camp. In a letter written from the island in May of 1862 Thomas Love of the 89th New York Infantry infers that a sutler has accompanied his regiment "Three dollars for a suck of whiskey if it is to be had on the sly is often given. All kinds of Yankee notions sell for most unprecedented prices."

Reconstructed jugs and pitcher found in Camp Reno. They could have been used by either Southern or Northern troops and possibly black refugees.


Oyster and clam shells along with a beef bone sit on a whole ceramic plate. Also shown are a whiskey and U.S. Navy pepper bottle. Pepper bottle found in the water near Ft. Reno. All other artifacts found in Camp Reno.

Soldiers harvested clams and oysters from the waters surrounding Roanoke Island. Preserved beef was one of the meats distributed to soldiers. Rations were made more palatable with the use of condiments. Spirituous beverages  temporarily eased the hardships of soldiering.

Soldiers enjoyed smoking pipes while in camp. The black bowl is hard rubber and was found near Fort Bartow. The others were found in Camp Reno and are clay except for the gray one which is soapstone.

All artifacts and soldier letters shown in this site are in my personal collection.