Sunday, February 19, 2012

Civil War Humor 1861-1865

Parody was a favorite form of humor among the troops of both sides. The soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, often referred to as “Lee’s Army”, sometimes parodied the title of Victor Hugo’s popular novel Les Miserables and referred to themselves as, “Lee’s Miserables .”

Popular songs were a source for parody. The song Just Before The Battle, Mother (I was thinking most of you), was mangled into:

Just before the battle, Mother,
I was drinking mountain dew,
When I saw the Rebels coming
To the rear I quickly flew.

Not even prayers were spared. The classic children's 18th century prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

was revised by Union soldiers on Burnside’s celebrated “Mud March”:

“Now I lay me down to sleep
In the mud that’s many fathoms deep;
If I’m not here when you awake,
Just hunt me up with an oyster rake.”




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Friday, February 17, 2012

Union and Confederate Irishmen in the American Civil War

Although some Irish Catholics had lived in America since the colonial period, there was no significant immigration to the United States until the Potato Famine in Ireland (1845-1853). According to the 1860 census, well over one and a half million Americans claimed to have been born in Ireland. The majority of these lived in the North. Irish Catholics faced both religious and ethnic prejudice from the then largely Anglo-Saxon population. Coming upon a group of Irish women chanting “the keen”, a traditional Gaelic lament, after a number of their men had been killed, George Templeton Strong wrote, “It was an uncanny sound to hear; quite new to me….Our Celtic fellow citizens are almost as remote from us in temperament and constitution as the Chinese.” Some 150,000 Irish soldiers served in the Union army, and 25,000 in the Confederate army.



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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Santa Claus, Indiana: The Friendliest Town in America



In 1856, the town fathers of a newly founded small town in southwest Indiana petitioned the United States Postal Service to open a post office at “Santa Fe”, Indiana. The Post Office refused, since there was already another town by that name in Indiana. The town decided to change its’ name to Santa Claus, thus becoming the only town in the world with a post office bearing the name “Santa Claus”. The town's unique name went largely unnoticed until the late 1920s, when local postmaster James Martin began promoting the Santa Claus postmark. The growing volume of holiday mail became so substantial that it caught the attention of Robert Ripley in 1929, who featured the town's post office in his nationally-syndicated “Believe It or Not” cartoon.


Today, the town hosts a Santa Claus convention where “professional Santas” from around the globe gather annually to discuss, participate, improve, and learn from each other, on topics that promote the ideals of Santa Claus.


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