In “‘Relics of Barbarism’: The Army’s Original Enlisted Bunks” (page 2 of Call to Duty, Volume 9, Issue 3), Ephriam Dickson vividly explains the rationale causing the Army to do away with the traditionally uncomfortable, overcrowded, and unhealthy double wooden bunks that populated enlisted Army barracks until after the Civil War in favor of the single iron bedsteads that were introduced Army-wide in the mid-1870s.
Dickson’s historically enlightening piece brought to mind the familiar adage, “Soldiers can sleep anywhere, anytime.” To test the adage, we turned to the U.S. Army Center of Military History’s Army Art Collection. Among the 16,000 pieces of Soldier-artists’ work in the collection, we found scores of paintings and drawings of Soldiers sleeping in different places at different times.
Here’s just a small sampling, including a barracks scene where our slumbering Soldier seems to prefer the instant comfort of pillow, padded chair, and duffle bag over the iron bedstead of the barracks. For others shown here, the comforts of hard earth, helmet, hammock, rock, ruck, and truck seem to do just fine.
Art courtesy of the U.S. Army Center of Military History’s Army Art Collection.