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Christmas in the Civil War - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Thu Dec 18th, 2008 11:35 pm
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pamc153PA
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'Tis the season for a new thread!

Well, it's that time of the year, and of course I'm thinking Christmas. . .Civil War Christmas, that is.  It seems to me that, besides the religious aspect of Christmas, the holiday didn't have the importance to mid-nineteenth century folks as it does now. On top of it, it fell in the middle of wintertime, and winter camp--a slow, boring time for the troops.

So was Christmas celebrated by the Civil War soldiers, and if so, how? Examples--stories?

Pam

P.S. Since my ancestors, CW and otherwise, were German, I'll take some credit for the introduction of the Christmas tree to the United States, even though it was a firetrap with its lighted candles!



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 01:12 am
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Johan Steele
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12/24/61 Capt. Robert Carter of the 22nd Mass noted in his diary: Christmas eve, and I am on duty as officer of the day, but am not on duty to-morrow. AS much as I desire to see you all, I would not leave my company alone... ...I give my company a Christmas dinner to-morrow, consisting of turkey, oysters, pies, apples, etc.; no liquors.



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 01:14 am
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Johan Steele
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12/25/61 Private Robert Moore of the CS wrote: This is Christmas & very dull Christmas it has been to me. Had an egg-nog to-night but did not enjoy it much as we had no ladies to share it with us.



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 01:26 am
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Johan Steele
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Longfellow wrote his: "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" to mourn the loss of his wife and son during the war.

Popular Christmas songs of the day were : Silent Night (often sang in german), Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Deck the Halls, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear & Up on the Housetop were all songs of the period. My unit Captain did some serious research on CW era songs 5-6 years ago including only songs published prior to or during the war and known to be sung by the men.

IIRC there was something on the order of 25,000 songs published during the war. Me... I can't carry a tune in a bucket but by god I can whistle the top off the trees.



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 01:32 am
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Johan Steele
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It's also important to remember what the men of the 15 Corps did in Savannah... it started w/ one Regt and spread throughout the whole Army. Men started whittling and made toys for the children of the city. I believe I've seen a number of 30,000 toys distributed. THey were delived by ordnance wagon handed out by a Yank dressed as Santa.

I remember reading a Sgt mentioning it. He was a touch bitter having lost all but a couple of his freinds to the war. "They may hate us but they know who gave them Christmas. And they will hate us all the more because it was not their fathers."



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 05:35 am
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fedreb
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12/31/1862. In a letter to his daughter, from a camp near Fairfax Station, General Alpheus Williams wrote " Christmas has come and gone so gently and with so little of the circumstance of holidays that I was not made aware of its presence"



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 06:35 am
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Kernow-Ox
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Because I have it handy:

25 December 1861
'Have had snow for past eight hours. It laid six to eight inches deep on everything. Many tents had to be taken down and repitched. Could not have dress parade or drill today. All were eating and drinking all they could get. Rations of whiskey were served to the brigade and the 40th guard house was full of drunken soldiers before sundown...."

Pvt Robert Knox Sneden (near Alexandria, VA, I think)

('Eye of the storm', Touchstone Press, 2000)



 Posted: Fri Dec 19th, 2008 01:45 pm
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j harold 587
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Johan, do you recall the referance for the information on the 15th regiment? My G-Granddad served with then in Savana and I am always looking for more information on them.  Thanks  



 Posted: Sat Dec 20th, 2008 03:17 am
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Johan Steele
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If you're interested in 15th Corps and you haven't read Woodworth; it has to be your next purchase.  Worth every penny IMO.

Woodworth, Steven E., Nothing but Victory The Army of the Tennessee, Knoph, 2005.



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