Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Christmas During the Civil War
Many of the ways we celebrate the holidays today were already in place by the time of the Civil War. Soldiers sought solace in customs and traditions such as caroling, decorating and gift exchanges. But the season was also a reminder of separation for soldiers and their loved ones at home. For troops preparing for the bloody Battle of Stones River in late December 1862, or shivering in the trenches of Petersburg in 1864, there was little respite for Christmas and New Year’s Day. As we approach the end of 2016, take a look back in history and remember how soldiers in blue and grey celebrated the holiday season.
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" has been a popular Christmas carol since the first musical version appeared in 1872. Originally a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the text was set to music by John Baptiste Calkin and has been recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. A subsequent musical version penned by Johnny Marks in the 1950s became popular thanks in large part to the talents of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Sarah McLachlan, and others, who have made Marks' version the most commonly heard setting of Longfellow's text.
Christmas in the Confederate White House
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."
Christmas Night of '62
The following is a poem by Confederate soldier William Gordon McCabe giving his thoughts on Christmas Night 1862.
The Civil War Trust