They Wore Printed Calicos

Visit any Civil War re-enactment event and you will find women sporting dresses in colorful calicos - those small floral or geometric all-over patterns that sometimes make your eyes spin. All that color can't be you might think. But, in fact, calicos were a featured item in dry good ads in period newspapers and adorned Civil War ladies... Continue Reading →

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They Wore Cotton

In 1860 cotton was the United States' largest export. Produced cheaply through slave labor, the American cotton trade provided most of the world's supply. Sixty-four percent of slaves lived on cotton plantations. While ardent abolitionists refused to buy slave-produced cotton and in 1838 established the American Free Produce Association, the boycott had little effect, probably, because the... Continue Reading →

A Civil War Boy’s Diary

In my last post I referred to the diary of Lucy James Stoughton of Castle Creek. I came across another local diary in my files. This one by a boy of about the same age as Lucy. Diary of a Binghamton Boy of the 1860s was edited and explained by Marjory Barnun Hinman and published in... Continue Reading →

The Ladies of Castle Creek’s “World’s Fare”

While the beneficent ladies of New York City waited until 1864 to stage their extravaganza to raise thousands of dollars for the Sanitary Commission and the care of the wounded, other women were doing their part from early on. In the winter of 1861 when it was becoming apparent the war was going to be long and... Continue Reading →

Civil War Medical Books for the Home

"Medical works are generally a heterogeneous compound of vague ideas and jaw-breaking words, in which the dead languages are largely employed to treat of living subjects. Orthodoxy in medicine consists in walking in the beaten paths of Esculapian ancestors, and looking with grave contempt on all who essay to cut out new paths for themselves.... Continue Reading →

Beneficient Ladies of New York

If you were a well-to-do lady living in New York in April 1864 and a member of the Union League Club House, you might have found yourself deep in preparations for the Metropolitan  Fair. Impressed by the successes of the Sanitary Fairs in Chicago and Boston in raising money for the care of wounded soldiers, New... Continue Reading →

Fun in the Snow 1860s Style

It snowed today and a white Christmas is predicted for my region. Time to have fun in the snow! Despite the war, children during the Civil War period loved snow as much as children do today. Indeed, the 1864 American Boy's Book of Sports and Games included snow play among its many healthful activities for American boys.... Continue Reading →

Sleigh Rides in the 1860s

  Why do parties choose a moonlit night for sleigh rides? Because they are pleasanter than dark nights. "Proceedings of the Farmers' Club" in the  Annual Report of the City of New York 1864 p. 165. Here it is December 15, and no snow, no snowmen, and no sleds. I am looking  out my window... Continue Reading →

A Civil War Christmas Story

There are but few children, in this matter-of-fact age, who have real faith in the jolly little man with mouse-skins and reindeer...  No this wasn't written in 2012. This is taken from the children's book  Keep a Good Heart: A Story for Christmas Time by Cousin Carrie 1864 p. 78.  What can children's books tell... Continue Reading →

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