What Card Games Did Civil War Soldiers Play?

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By Ralph Torres

During the Civil War, soldiers spent long hours waiting for orders or marching towards their next battle. To pass the time, they often played card games.

While there were many popular card games at the time, soldiers had limited access to decks of cards and often had to make do with what they had. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular card games that Civil War soldiers played.


One of the most straightforward games that Civil War soldiers played was War. This game is simple and easy to play with a standard deck of 52 playing cards.

To play, players would split the deck in half and each player would draw a card from their stack at the same time. The player with the highest rank wins both cards. The game continues until one player has all 52 cards.

Old Maid

Another popular game among Civil War soldiers was Old Maid. This game requires a deck of cards with one queen removed (leaving an odd number of cards).

Players would shuffle the deck and deal out all of the cards evenly among themselves. Players then take turns drawing a card from another player’s hand in an attempt to find pairs and discard them. The player who ends up with the odd queen is declared the “Old Maid” and loses.


Euchre was also a popular game among Civil War soldiers because it only requires a small deck of 24 cards as opposed to a full deck of 52. Euchre is a trick-taking game where players aim to win tricks by playing higher-ranked cards than their opponents. The first team to reach ten points wins.


While not as prevalent as other games on this list, poker was still played by some Civil War soldiers when they could find enough people and decks of cards to play with. Poker is a betting game where players try to make the best possible hand using a combination of their own cards and shared community cards. The player with the strongest hand wins the pot.


In conclusion, Civil War soldiers played a variety of card games to pass the time during lulls in fighting. Games like War and Old Maid required only a standard deck of cards, while Euchre was played with a smaller deck, and Poker was reserved for those who had access to multiple decks. These games provided much-needed entertainment and camaraderie for soldiers during some of the most difficult times in American history.