The Rebel soldier - what did he look like?


Countless eyewitness descriptions allow us to evoke the popular image of the ragged Rebel

  • Uniforms were in shreds and tatters, described more appropriately as “multiforms”; faces were unshaven, unkempt hair stuck through slouch hats of all shapes and sizes, and the dusty roads only served to cake the soldiers in further filth 
  • Uniforms were ill-fitting; sleeves were too short, trouser legs too long, only adding to their multifarious appearance. 
  • Lee’s men were particularly deficient in shoes, underwear and blankets, and “Their coats were made out of almost anything you could imagine, butternut color predominating.”Their lack of shoes led to scores of footsore soldiers, and in many regiments the barefooted seemed to outnumber those with footwear.  
  • The weight of soldiers had also debilitated; a supposed diet containing large amounts of green corn and apples for subsistence ensured the Rebels became hollow-eyed and sullen-faced. 
  • James Steptoe Johnston, Jr. of the 11th Mississippi wrote that “it had become quite natural for us to starve.” 
  • One unnamed citizen in Frederick, Maryland wrote that “the filth that pervades them is most remarkable… They have no uniforms, but are well armed and equipped.” 
  • One witness said she felt “humiliated at the thought that this horde of ragamuffins could set our grand army of the Union at defiance”, but professed a certain sympathy “for the poor, misguided wretches, for some were limping along so painfully, trying to keep with their comrades.” 
  • Mrs. I.E. Doane was 81 years old when interviewed by workers of the WPA Federal Writer’s Project –These, ragged and half-starved, passed in hordes, raiding their provisions, killing their chickens, hogs and cattle. Although this was hard, Mrs. Cummings did not begrudge food to these soldiers. Mrs. Doane says she well remembers her mother and “Mudder” baking hoecakes in the kitchen for these hungry soldiers, who were so ravenous that they could not wait for the bread to be browned on both sides, but would snatch it from their hands and eat it half-cooked. She recalls seeing her mother dish up sauer-kraut for the soldiers until they had eaten her entire winter’s supply - two barrels.

From wildbillburroughs on Tumblr

Alabama Flag & Banner

Ryan Phillips
Birmingham Business Journal

When a manufacturer of Confederate flags opted to quit production, Huntsville-based Alabama Flag and Banner began making their own.

The store owners and employees began making the Confederate flags in-store using their own equipment and materials, according to a report from

The orders began to pile up when the company started producing their own flags, selling more than 1,000 on the first day of self-production.

Despite calls from around Alabama and the country to have the flags removed, owners of the store have insisted they will continue to sell what they view as a "historic" flag.

Sales for the Huntsville flag shop hit a high last Tuesday, following the media firestorm that ignited in the wake of a shooting in South Carolina that left nine dead and a shooter in custody with white supremacist ties.

The company offers four sizes of Confederate flags, ranging from $25 in price to $85.

Owners of the establishment said, on average, the store would sell two or three flags a week prior to the same controversy that inspired Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to order the flags removed from the Capitol grounds last week.

From Birmingham Business Journal
Alabama Flag & Banner:

First Battle Flags

The presentation of the first battleflags to the Confederate Army at Centerville, November 28th 1861. Theses flags were mostly pink and rose silk (red silk being hard to come by at the time). General Beauregard and Johnston were present along with other generals and dignitaries. Later on the flags started to be made from red wool. By Don Troiani.



Will the real Confederate Flag please stand up?

When one usually thinks of the Confederate flag this usually comes to mind, a flag with a red banner, crisscrossed with with blue stripes and white stars.  This images usually evokes very strong emotions, for some it is a symbol of racism and hatred.  For others it is a symbol of southern pride and heritage.  While for others it can be a symbol of rebellion.  However, during the American Civil War, this was one of many flags that was used to symbolize the Confederacy, and in fact a wide variety of flags and banners were used by Confederate forces.  The Confederacy was exactly what it was named after, a Confederacy (which is a loose union of independent states).  As a result each was almost like its own independent nation, and chose their own Confederate flags to take into battle.

Continue reading "Will the real Confederate Flag please stand up?" »

Civil War cannonballs found at the University of Alabama

Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians were called to the University of Alabama campus Friday afternoon after workers repairing a sidewalk discovered a cache of 10 Civil War era cannonballs. (Stephen Dethrage |
Explosive ordinance disposal technicians were called to the University of Alabama campus Friday afternoon after crews repairing sidewalks discovered a cache of 10 Civil War era cannonballs buried in the ground.

Cathy Andreen, a University spokeswoman, confirmed the discovery and said the bomb squad was called to guarantee the safety of UA employees and others on the campus at the time.

"Ten Civil War era cannonballs were discovered this afternoon by crews who were repairing sidewalks on the UA campus," Andreen said. "Out of an abundance of caution, EOD technicians were called to address any safety issues." 

The ordnance was found under a sidewalk north of Gorgas Library in the center of campus. Because the cannonballs were found in the late afternoon, employees in the immediate vicinity of the dig site were allowed to leave the area and go home for the day. 

Most of the officers from the University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa Police Departments left the scene just before 5 p.m. Friday.


Belt buckles: Real or fake?

How do you know if it’s real, fake, or just a reproduction? A glimpse inside the complex world of Civil War belt buckles

Counterfeit or Reproduction?

Some fakes are easily spotted: the font relief is razor-sharp and obviously freshly struck off a modern die, or the hooks on the back are made of modern steel. But some are devilishly difficult to analyze. Confederate buckles tend to be trickier than U.S. buckles to certify, as the original Confederate buckle-makers were usually amateurs, and their lackadaisical craftsmanship is easy to replicate. This is a difficult field. In extreme cases, an expert may think that a buckle is real for a dozen reasons, yet the strongest pronouncement he feels certain of is that he just can’t prove it’s not fake. 

Union “US” Oval Buckle

The US Oval is the most common Civil War belt buckle on the market, and indeed was the most common buckle on the battlefield during the Civil War. In the North, the Union had the industrial resources and was able to die-stamp as many as a million of these buckles. Consequently, the US Oval is not terribly valuable — some fetch about $300 to $350 — though of course that doesn’t stop fakers from producing their own versions.

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr


Lincoln's house

Today, June 11, in 1850, Abraham Lincoln decided on a little home-improvement project.

That he wasn’t exactly a regular customer at home depot shows the, somewhat stilted, letter he wrote to order the supplies he needed:

“I wish to build a front fence, on a brick foundation, at my house. 

I therefore shall be obliged, if you will, as soon as possible, deliver me bricks of suitable quality, and sufficient number to build such foundation, fifty feet long; of proper width, and depth, under ground, and about two feet above ground.”

The order was sent to Nathaniel Hay who was in the brick business in Springfield. 

And if that name sounds familiar…Nathaniel was an uncle to John Hay, who at that time was only twelve years old but who’d become President Lincoln’s secretary exactly ten years later.

From allthinsglincoln on Tumblr