Military Gallery

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Military Gallery Photostory

This room memorializes Alabama soldiers-the causes they fought for, the lives they led, and the lives they lost.

Alabama has a proud military history dating back to the time of the American Revolution. Alabama soldiers have fought in every major United States conflict. There are several military bases located in the state, and thousands of trained military reservists on standby. If America is involved in a conflict anywhere in the world, Alabamians in the reserves, National Guard and active duty military are called on to serve.

Located throughout this gallery are the weapons and possessions that Alabama soldiers took with them to war. You can see how these items evolved, or were adapted, to meet the changing times and needs of the soldiers.

Soldiers from every war have shared some concerns: getting enough to eat, hearing from home, and dealing with the deprivations of wartime life in a military camp. Items like the contents of the Civil War soldier’s knapsack and the World War I personal kit demonstrate these concerns. The knapsack used by Federal and Confederate soldiers during the War Between the States includes a sewing kit or “housewife” used by a brigadier general, a homemade fork, and an improvised plate made from half of a canteen. The personal kit of a World War I soldier reflects the same daily needs--toothbrush, mess kit, and cup. Unlike the original solutions earlier soldiers came up with to meet their needs, the personal belongings of the World War I and World War II soldiers were standard issue.

Uniforms also evolved over the years, from the Civil War era homespun shirt dyes butternut brown to the WAC uniform worn by members of the Women’s Army Corps. Colors, fabrics, and designs have changed to better serve soldiers fighting in different climates and to identify the rank, branch of service and regiment of the soldiers.

The soldier also has evolved. The earliest Alabama soldiers were volunteers; now many are career soldiers. Women among Alabama’s fighting force. President Franklin Roosevelt originally created the Women’s Army Corps on May 14, 1942, to replace male soldiers in non-combat jobs. When the Corps was decommissioned in 1978, women had integrated into all branches of military service.

Updated: October 2, 2008
Alabama Department of Archives & History
624 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0100
Phone: (334) 242-4435