The following are supposedly true definitions, stories, and terms relating to the Civil War.
BIGGEST MAN… The biggest man in the Union Army was Capt. David Van Buskirk of the 27th Indiana Regiment who stood 6 feet 11 inches and weighed 380 pounds. He was captured in 1862 and was sent to a Richmond Prison where a Confederate entrepreneur put him on exhibit. Even Confederate President Jeff Davis came to see him and was astounded when the impish Van Buskirk claimed that back home in Bloomington Indiana, “when I was at the train station with my company , my six sisters came to say goodbye. As I was standing there, with my company, they all came up to me, leaned down and kissed me on top of the head.”
LETTER HOME… A young soldier left home to join the army. He told his girl friend that he would write every day. After about six months, he received a letter from his girlfriend that she was marrying someone else. He wrote home to his family to find out who she married. The family wrote back and told him. It was the …. mailman.
KINDNESS… Treated kindly, a soldier responds with kindness. Treated kindly, a citizen responds with treason.
PATROTIC… Many soldiers enlisted because they thought it was their duty, others joined for the bounty and others joined to impress their girlfriends. Many of the married women also encouraged their men to go to war. One of these men, while bidding his wife good bye whimpered a little and showed signs of back out. His wife told him that if he was going to cry about it, to pull off his britches and she’d go in his place and he can stay home and run the farm.
COFFIN was called a wooden overcoat.
GREY UNIFORM… After the war a former Confederate officer, who violated the city ordinance against wearing a grey uniform in public, was arrested and put in jail. He broke the law because he did not own another suit. A former Union Officer asked for and received permission from the sheriff to share the cell; remaining there until public opinion forced the one time Rebel’s release with repeal of the law.
MANNERS… Don’t let your hurry up take over your manners.
DRUGS… A lot of drugs will make you any person you want to be; but no drug can make you be the person you used to be.
NO HONOR… During a battle, a Captain observed that one of the soldiers of his regiment was not shooting at an enemy soldier that had dropped his musket and was running away. When the battle was over the captain sought out the soldier and asked him why he did not shoot at the retreating enemy soldier. He replied, ” When that soldier decided to run away, he marked himself as a coward and has to live with the decision all his life. If I had shot him I would have shortened his burden and also there is no honor in shooting a man that is not facing you.”
OFFICER’S SHOULDER BARS were called pumpkin rinds.
NO COUNTERSIGN… When food was scarce many soldiers would steal or pillage nearby farms for anything that could be converted to food or drink. One evening an Officer smelled roast pork, investigating he found a pig roasting over a camp fire and asked who the soldiers were that stole it. A Corporal came to attention and said “sir, I was on picket duty and when I heard a noise and I called out for the pass word. All I heard was oink and that is not the countersign so I shot him. We were just going to bring him to your tent for court martial and have you pass judgment on him. The Officer, suppressing a smile, said ” bring only a part of him and I will pass a partial sentence.”
FREE WHISKEY… A soldier, who was habitually drunk, publicly announced to all the men in his company and surrounding companies that he was swearing off drinking and that all the other soldiers should give up this foul habit also. The other soldiers would tease him to fall off the wagon by giving him whiskey and get him drunk. Every morning he would be back preaching about the sins of alcohol. One day his tent mate told him he ought to give up preaching about the evils of the jug as he always ends up drunk. With a twinkle in his blood shot eyes he said ” what, and give up all that free whiskey?”
CANNONBALL… A whistling cannon ball can dampen a soldiers courage.
COWARD… A Confederate expression used to express a coward, ” He developed a case of Yankee Chills.”
YOUNG SOLDIER… A young soldier never sees danger until it is time to die.
SCARED… A soldier in battle stated that he was so scared that if he was a girl , he’d cry.
WAXED MUSTACHE… A soldier that had no respect for his commanding officer who wore a waxed mustache, would shout to him ” take those mice out of your mouth, I can see their tails hanging out.”
FOG OF WAR… A term used to describe a sense of confusion that seems to over take a Commander at the commencement of a battle.
SLIPPERY BACON… Bacon that is so rotten, it’s only use would be to start a fire with.
BATHROOM… Although not listed in the rules of war, soldiers on both sides did not shoot at the enemy when he was going to the bathroom.
FIRST BATTLE… When a soldier went into a battle for the very first time, it was called ” seeing the elephant ” and also when two veterans would meet and discuss their first battle they would use the expression ” Where did you lose your grin?” The fun for a young soldier was over once he entered his first battle.
BUGLE… In the winter, one of the favorite tricks that the soldiers would play on the bugler was to put water in his bugle at night and let it freeze. The next morning the bugler would be unable to blow reveille until he thawed out his bugle.
BUTTONS… When an officer was detailed to do many different duties by his Commander he would describe himself as having to many buttons on his coat.
ROOSTER… The Confederate Army won many of the battles in the beginning and the middle of the war. One reason was that the Union were the invaders and were attacking fortified positions. The Confederates were entrenched and defending their homeland . They described it best with the expression, ” A rooster fights best on his own hill.”
BAYONET… A soldier had lost his bayonet and whittled one from wood so he could stand inspection. He was hoping not to be discovered until the regiment had gone into battle where he could pick up one from a dead soldier. At an inspection, an officer asked to see his bayonet. The soldier stated ” Sir, I promised my father I would never unsheathe my bayonet unless I intended to kill with it.” The Officer insisted he hand over the bayonet. Taking it out, the Soldier looked skyward and declared ” May the Lord change this bayonet to wood for breaking my vow.”
BRAVERY… A brave soldier is a compassionate enemy.
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