Civil War Humor

Civil War Humor

The image at the top of this post is rare. Victorians seldom smiled in photographs and almost never grinned. The reason is that long exposure times for early photographic equipment meant holding a pose for an uncomfortable stretch; the slightest movement meant a...
Major Reno’s Day in Court

Major Reno’s Day in Court

Court Recorder: “State whether it was cowardice or not that prompted you to leave the timber and the bottom.” Major Reno: “There was no use in my staying in the timber as I could assist no one and could make no diversion. When I left there I acted on...
McClellan’s Last Word on the Civil War

McClellan’s Last Word on the Civil War

Considering the eventual fortunes of Ulysses S. Grant and George McClellan, the start of the American Civil War promised a very different outcome for each. Grant stated to a reporter after his presidency: “I was anxious to see McClellan. McClellan was then in...
African American Victorian Women

African American Victorian Women

“The negro in slavery, before and during the War, was lazy and idle—he will always be that—but he was simple, true, and faithful. What he has become since his emancipation from servitude is a queer comment on the effect of the liberty bestowed upon him.”...
Not Your Typical Southern Belle

Not Your Typical Southern Belle

“I don’t believe in Secession, but I do in Liberty. I want the South to conquer, dictate its own terms, and go back to the Union, for I believe that, apart, inevitable ruin awaits both. It is a rope of sand, this Confederacy, founded on the doctrine of...
The Terrible Cost of Care

The Terrible Cost of Care

“‘A hospital is no place to form attachments,’ said one lady in this hospital to another. The former had surprised the latter in a sudden flood of tears, in the pantry of Ward 1. The occasion was the arrival of that order for the kitchen man, and...
Betrayed and Entombed

Betrayed and Entombed

In the Gallagher Law Library at the University of Washington one day, I found a remarkable little book. I was looking for vintage true crime. I found a gem. Carlotta Shotwell was a young, wealthy woman who had been defrauded by her “husband,” the former...
Montana Pioneer, Sarah Raymond

Montana Pioneer, Sarah Raymond

I had the good fortune to visit Virginia City last summer, the place to which a then-25-year-old Montana pioneer, Sarah Raymond, emigrated with her mother and brother in 1865 during the westward expansion of the United States. Do you know that feeling of getting close...
Shocking Frontier Fun

Shocking Frontier Fun

John Bourke, soldier-scholar and plains Indian Wars campaigner, was a great admirer of Native Americans and befriended many. His classic work, On the Border with Crook, is one of the best of the period and includes a great deal of humor. Men on the isolated frontier...

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