Pup Tent Activity

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Updated on Apr 27, 2016

Creating a tent in your bedroom or living room is always fun. But if you consoider that a Civil War soldier’s pup tent was often all he had keeping him from the rain, cold, snow and sun it might not sound like so much fun anymore. Each Union soldier was issued half of a tent. This rectangular piece of canvas was then hooked to another soldier’s half to create an A-frame pup tent meant to sleep two. Soldiers often referred to them as “dog tents” because they were better suited for a dog and were not very effective at keeping out the weather. However, the tents could be set up anywhere by using a rifle with a bayonet as a pole and they were much better than nothing, which is what most Confederate soliders had.

What You Need:

  • Chairs and light furniture
  • Old bedsheets and towels
  • Clothespins

What You Do:

  1. Round up some chairs or other light furniture to construct your tent with (don’t use lamps – that’s dangerous!). These will take the place of the bayonets and rails that Civil War soldiers used.
  2. Drape the fabric over the furniture so that it resembles a tent. You can use clothespins to help secure the fabric.
  3. Begin experimenting with configurations by arranging the chairs and tables in different ways. What way covers all of you? What way gives you the highest “ceiling”?
  4. Move your pillow, some blankets and a small snack into the tent with you. Live like a soldier! Read a book or write a letter to a friend to get in the spirit. To really get into character, build it in your backyard.

This activity adapted from The Civil War Kids 150: Fifty Fun Things to Do, See, Make and Find for the 150th Anniversary. 

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