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Father's Day has roots in the Civil War


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Fathers Day In America Has Ties To The American Civil War

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas, Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War VeteranWilliam Jackson Smart, who was a sergeant in the Union’s First Arkansas Light Artillery, and a single parent who raised his six children there.

After hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers.

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913

The Civil War Parlor

A Confederate soldier's Easter

Easter dinner from USA and CSA soldiers.

April 20, 1862 USA
“This is Easter and a pretty day. We had 2 eggs a piece this morning” Alexander Gwin (Campbell, Joseph, Judy Gowen. Marching Orders: The Civil War Diary of Alexander)

April 5, 1863 CSA
“The snow is about seven or eight inches deep. I don’t think we will have a very gay Easter today, as game is skearce, and we can get no eggs.” Jer Coggin (Taylor, Michael. The Cry is War, War, War. Winston Salem: Morning Side Press)

March 27, 1864 USA
“The beautiful Easter Sunday finds us all O.K. for it is as pretty and warm day, but we have no eggs. We could have them at 40 cents per doz. but I guess we will do without this time- Daniel Chisholm (Menge, W. Springer Menge, J. August Shimrak. The Civil War Notebook of Daniel)

From: Civil War Talk

Saint Patrick's Day March 17, 1863

Charles Goddard and Matthew Marvin visit the Irish Brigade on

Saint Patrick’s Day March 17, 1863

Charles Goddard of Company K, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry attended the festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 17, 1863 at the headquarters of the Irish Brigade near Falmouth, Virginia.  Young Goddard, 18 was drawn to danger when he was off duty.  Charles Ely, his comrade in arms, said of Goddard, “the only thing he did better than getting into scrapes, was getting out of them.” Matthew Marvin’s diary entry for March 17 indicates he also attended this event. His view of the celebration offers a contrast to Goddard’s.

Notices of the upcoming celebration including a Military Mass, a horse race, and other festivities, no doubt captured many soldier’s interest including Goddard and Marvin. The crowd at the brigade’s headquarters in Falmouth was estimated at over 20,000 people including General Joseph Hooker, Commander of the Army of the Potomac. Under the flamboyant leadership of Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish Brigade was one of the most colorful units of the Army of the Potomac. The Irish Brigade reflected the characteristics of its leader; it was ferocious in battle and rambunctious between campaigns. 

Matthew Marvin’s diary account of the event.

Tuesday March 17

St. Patrick’s day is a big one in the Army of the Potomoc
Horse-racing and steeple chases is the program lots of
whiskie & lots of fun most all the Gen in this part
of the army are present here  Heavy firing up the river
Weather pleasent mud knee deep.’s_day__1863.htm

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Dating And Love In The 1800’s

Dating And Love In The 1800’s

In the 1800’s Courting wasn’t something young people did merely for a good time; it was a serious family business proposition. Surprisingly, the main players in the marriage process often weren’t just the bride and groom; they were the parents of the bride and groom.

Courting was rooted in the era of arranged marriages, though the couple and their feelings often played an important role. Still, families often met to discuss how this marriage would benefit not only the bride and groom, but the respective clans. The point is, a marriage is a joining of two families as well as two young people.

After the Civil War, an elaborate system of rules governing courting emerged. On a woman’s invitation, men conducted formal “calls” to her home, during which couples might converse, read aloud, play parlor games, or give a piano recital. Parents gave their children privacy to court alone, often removing themselves from the parlor, trusting that decorum would prevent improper behavior.

Advertising for Love: A Personal Ad From The 1800’s

Matrimonial. The world is so full of poetry, beauty, and glory, and I have no one to share it with me; no one to read with me my Shakespeare and Milton, to enjoy with me nature, art, letters, society; I seek, therefore, my other and better half, my complement and peer, equal, though not like; myself a New-Englander by birth, of liberal culture and pursuits, of about 35 years of age, a gentleman and a Christian in my aspirations. Ladies so minded will please address Mr. CHRISTOPHER LEIGHTON, Box No. 144 Times Office. ~Too bad Mr Leighton is long dead…I wonder if he found what he was looking for?

A portrait of a Vermont military couple, pictured in the 3rd Vermont regiment uniform.- Vermont Historical Society

From the Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

July 4, 1861, Richmond Virginia

From the Richmond Dispatch, 7/5/1861, p. 2

Public Guard. - This well drilled corps made its customary annual appearance on our streets yesterday, by way of celebrating the 4th. They were under the command of Lieut. Edward S. Gay, and were much admired for their soldierly bearing, as well as for the regularity of their movement and neatness of uniform.

They went through the evolutions and fired twelve rounds on Capitol Square, eleven being in honor of the Confederate States, and one for the Legislature of Maryland. The guard was accompanied by its splendid brass band, whose performance of the Marseillaise on the public square enthused many French volunteers from other States. Col. Thomas, the gallant Marylander, was also present in his Zouave dress, an interested spectator. He attracted much respectful attention.

Confederate Memorial Day marked in city where Civil War began

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Confederate Memorial Day was marked Thursday in the city where the Civil War began with a somber, reflective ceremony in which dozens of descendants of Southern troops described where their ancestors fought and many of them died.

About 100 people gathered on Charleston’s Battery as a wreath was placed at a monument dedicated to the Southern defenders of Charleston. From that spot, one can look across Charleston Harbor to Fort Sumter where the April, 1861 bombardment of the Union-held fort plunged the nation into Civil War.

Those attending, many of them members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, wore not Confederate gray but seersucker suits and straw hats under the warm May sun. About three dozen walked to the front of the gathering one at a time and then, some choking with emotion, gave the names, ranks and units of their ancestors and where they fought.

The group then sang “Dixie” and a group of Confederate re-enactors fired a cannon at nearby White Point Garden.

Continue reading "Confederate Memorial Day marked in city where Civil War began" »

Confederate ancestors defended homeland

Published: April 28, 2012

More than one million Southern men served in the Confederate military from 1861 to 1865. Nearly 300,000 died during the war. Florida, which sent more of her sons per capita into the Confederate army and navy than any other state, remembers its heroes each April 26. By Florida state law this date is the legal holiday of Confederate Memorial Day.

The focus of Confederate Memorial Day should be entirely upon those Confederate soldiers and sailors who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

For a moment, consider who the average Confederate was. He was a poor agrarian — a farmer, a miller or a logger. He likely had never been outside of his home county. He was either a teenager or a young man in his early 20s. He was a Christian and part of a large family. He had no military training. And he was not a slave owner.

These otherwise peaceable men went to war, almost all of them voluntarily, because in their heart of hearts their sense of duty demanded it. In their very real world of 1861, loyalty was first and foremost to one's kin and native state. The Southern man reacted to Lincoln's invasion of his sovereign homeland. It was that simple.

Confederate soldiers are recognized by the United States government as full-fledged military combatants with legal standing. Congress has made it so. Laws have been enacted requiring Confederate soldiers to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery and that provide for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish military-style headstones for unmarked Confederate graves.

A conservative estimate is that more than 80 million present-day Americans are direct descendents of a Confederate soldier or sailor. Our Confederate heritage is a fact. We can disavow it, we can ignore it, or, as Confederate Memorial Day compels, we can proudly embrace it.



The writer is the commander of Jubal A. Early Camp 556 Sons of Confederate Veterans in Tampa

from Tampa Bay Online

Christmas Night of '62



The following is a poem by Confederate soldier William Gordon McCabe giving his thoughts on Christmas Night 1862.

The wintry blast goes wailing by,
the snow is falling overhead;
I hear the lonely sentry's tread,
and distant watch-fires light the sky.

Dim forms go flitting through the gloom;
The soldiers cluster round the blaze
To talk of other Christmas days,
And softly speak of home and home

Continue reading "Christmas Night of '62" »

The first Christmas of the Civil War was not very merry, on either side

Thomas Nast immortalized Santa Claus with an illustration for the January 3, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly The first Santa Claus appeared as a small part of a large illustration titled "A Christmas Furlough" in which Nast set aside his regular news and political coverage to do a Santa Claus drawing. This Santa was a man dressed up handing out gifts to Union soldiers. Copyright note: the creator of this work died in 1902.

No merry Christmas in 1861

When the fathers and older brothers marched off to war in the spring of 1861, most left behind families filled with patriotic pride. But as Christmas drew near, their families were filled with sadness at the thought of the holiday without them.

At least they didn’t have to worry about losing their loved ones in battle. Not much fighting went on during the winter, so the armies stayed in camp, drilling and trying to keep warm. Mothers and children packed Christmas boxes to send them. Apples, baked goods and other treats to share — maybe even a ham or a pound of butter! — and knit socks and gloves.

On Christmas Day, most children went to church with their mothers and received small presents. This early in the war, there was enough food for a special Christmas dinner, too. People sang carols and tried to be cheerful. But in army camps on both sides, it was an ordinary winter day: drilling, writing letters and bringing in firewood. In the evening, though, the cooks prepared a special meal, and often there was singing as well as races and games.

This first wartime Christmas was not a joyous one, but those that followed it would be much worse.

The Washington Post

Christmas in the Confederate White House

Residence of Jefferson Davis

The wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote this article describing how the Davis family spent the Christmas of 1864 in the Confederate White House. It was published in The New York World, December 13, 1896 and has since been reprinted often. This excerpt was obtained via the website "The American Civil War, 1861-1865."  and on The Civil War Trust

By Varina Davis

...Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President's wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all be weighed and issued, and the playtime of the family began, but like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky came the information that the orphans at the Episcopalian home had been promised a Christmas tree and the toys, candy and cakes must be provided, as well as one pretty prize for the most orderly girl among the orphans.

The kind-hearted confectioner was interviewed by our committee of managers, and he promised a certain amount of his simpler kinds of candy, which he sold easily a dollar and a half a pound, but he drew the line at cornucopias to hold it, or sugared fruits to hang on the tree, and all the other vestiges of Christmas creations which had lain on his hands for years.

The ladies dispersed in anxious squads of toy-hunters, and each one turned over the store of her children's treasures for a contribution to the orphans' tree, my little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure: eyeless dolls, three-legged horses, tops with the upper peg broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone silent and all the ruck of children's toys that gather in a nursery closet.

Continue reading "Christmas in the Confederate White House" »