A Roll Of The Dice

Written by Samantha pearce,
Sentinels Historical Research team 2017

History classes teach students about the Civil War and the battles that were fought during it, but what did the soldiers do when they were not fighting?

Sometimes they would write letters home or rest but a majority of their recreation was spent gambling and smoking. The most popular game among the soldiers was “chuck-a-luck” and  required six cards and two or three dice. 

The dice were made from bone and many soldiers carried them during the Civil War. As many of the younger soldiers would go into battle they would “throw away their cards, dice, and pipes”. They did this because they did not want their families to find the evidence of gambling and smoking in their knapsacks in the event they were killed in battle.

The Shelby County Museum has six of these bone dice in their collection, the dice are incredibly small to keep from taking up much room up in their sack.


“Civil War Trunk Contents.” Oklahoma Historical Society. Oklahoma History Center, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <www.okhistory.org/historycenter/forms/trunks/civilwartrunk.pdf>.