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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ah Don't Know Much about the Woah.

Living in the South, many Mississippians are informal Civil War historians. We know about Pickett's Charge and the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac. This week, I had a peculiar reference question that led me to quite a few facts that I didn't know. How about you--did you know these things?

  • The state of Missouri was a split state. It contributed 17 regiments to the Confederate cause at Vicksburg and 22 to the Union (
  • The United States Sanitary Commission was formed as a volunteer organization which provided aid to Union soldiers. At the battle of Gettysburg, it distributed (among many, many other things) 600 gallons of ale and almost 2,500 bottles of brandy and whiskey. For the teetotalling soldier, 100 pounds of tobacco and 1,000 tobacco pipes were also handed out (Fite).
  • During the Civil War, the depreciation of paper money and the hoarding and melting down of coins led to a shortage of change. (Who wants to get rid of the penny now?) One solution was to actually cut the paper money into pieces to "make" change. In Hartford, CT alone, $20,000 of printed bank notes were cut in this manner. Another solution was the crafting of special brass cases that were used to encase stamps, which were then used as change (Reinfeld).
  • Daniel Emmett wrote Dixie in 1859. Everyone knows that the tune was a sort of unofficial anthem for the Confederacy. However, President Lincoln also liked the song and had the White House band perform it for him (Chambers).
  • There were more than 100 libraries in the United States (North and South) that contained over 10,000 volumes. Twelve were in the South; 92 were in the North. Of these 104 libraries, there were 7 public libraries, all in the northern states (Fite).
  • The population of the North was less than 1% African-American. By the end of the Civil War, African-American soldiers made up 10% of the Union army (
  • To raise money during the war, several Nevada towns auctioned off a flour sack. This wins the prize for the most expensive empty bag ever; it was sold at a price of $25,000 (Fite).

So: did you know?

Chambers II, John Whiteclay, ed. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Oxford University Press, 1999.

Fite, Emerson D. Social and Industrial Conditions in the North during the Civil War. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1963.
Reinfeld, Fred. The Story of Civil War Money. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1959.

1 comment:

  1. I did not know these things. I especially like the tidbit about money. I also think we should try that flour sack idea to raise money for libraries and schools. Who knew they were such a hot commodity?


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