Glossary

Introduction to terms and definitions found throughout the encyclopedia.

B

Battalion

A military unit larger than a company and smaller than a regiment.

Battery

The basic unit of artillery in the Federal and Confederate armies. Each battery consisted of from four to six guns.

Besiege

The act of placing a city or fortification under siege. (See "siege" in the glossary).

Bivouac

A temporary military encampment or the act of camping out at night.

Black Codes

Laws passed by Southern Democratic state governments during the early part of Reconstruction that were designed to control and regulate the political, social, and economic lives of newly freed slaves.

Blockade

The isolation of a nation, area, city, or harbor by hostile ships or forces in order to prevent the entrance and exit of traffic and commerce.

Blockade Runner

A ship or person that tries to go through or past a blockade.

Border States

A group of neutral states that separated the North from the South during the Civil War. The border states were Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri.

Bounty

A monetary incentive offered to volunteers as an incentive to get them to enlist in the military. The Union and the Confederacy each offered enlistment bounties during the Civil War. After the 1863 Conscription Law went into effect,the term bounty also applied to money that people who were affluent enough could pay to avoid serving in the military.

Breastwork

A temporary fortification, usually built of earth and logs to about shoulder height, over which soldiers can fire small arms and still be protected.

Brevet

A commission nominally promoting an officer to a higher honorary rank without higher pay but, sometimes, with greater authority

Brigade

A military unit smaller than a division and larger than a battalion. During the Civil War a brigade equaled 4 -5 regiments (4,400 - 5,500 men) in the Union Army and 4 - 6 regiments (4,400 - 6,600 men) in the Confederate Army. Brigades were usually commanded by a brigadier general.

Brigadier General
A military officer with an insignia of one star, ranking above a colonel and below a major general.

Bummer

A soldier who temporarily left his unit to go on a foraging expedition. The term came into popular use during William T. Sherman's March to the Sea.

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Ohio Civil War Central: An Encyclopedia of the American Civil War