Thanksgiving 1918: A World War I Soldier Dreams Of Home

This year (2017) marks 100 years since American entered World War I, and earlier we shared details about this incident in U.S. and World History. Today’s primary source about Thanksgiving was written in 1918 by a U.S. African American soldier, just days after the war ended. He was still stationed in France and shared some exciting news of the day…

For those of you who might be wondering, I found this letter in a private online archive of World War I letters. I’ve decided to include the complete text of the letter and added some notes.  Continue reading

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1862: “There Are About 450 Men With Our Regiment Now”

Near Snickers Gap, Va.

Wednesday Nov 5th, 1862

Dear Sister

I received your letter of Oct 26th last Saturday and now will try to answer it. I received a letter from Anne last Thursday. I will try to answer it soon. Last Thursday night we left our camp at Antietam about 7 o’clock and marched about 3 hours over hills that would make Charleston Hill feel ashamed of itself, and camped down till morning. Friday we passed through Harpers Ferry. Saturday we lay in camp and Sunday, while you were going to meeting wrapped in thick shawls and furs, we were sweating on the march, but since then it has been cooler. There was quite a frost this morning. I expect you have had some snow by this time and considerable ice. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving 1862: A Civil War Soldier’s Holiday

Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday by proclamation in 1863 when he urged Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving. (President Franklin D. Roosevelt later made it the fourth Thursday of November).

However, days of thanksgiving or autumn “thanksgiving” feasts weren’t uncommon in American prior to Lincoln’s announcement. Thus, Civil War soldiers (particularly from the North) were familiar with the concept of harvest feasts and family gatherings, often choosing to have celebrations in camp or hospital as their supplies and time allowed.

We introduce a primary source written by a Union soldier in 1862 to start today’s discussion of Thanksgiving Through The Decades: Continue reading

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Blockade Runners: Running The Confederate Economy?

It’s the post that some of my readers have been waiting for…

Let’s talk about Blockade Runners’ role in the Confederate economy and their economic impact. These unarmed merchant vessels – owned privately or by the state or Confederate governments – carried cargoes worth thousands of dollars in and out of the blockaded Southern states. Today, we’ll do a “twenty-thousand” foot overview of King Cotton, the gross value of the cargoes, who was paying for the cargoes, and what happened (economically) when they were captured. Continue reading

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1862: “The People Are All Very Kind”

November 2, 1862

I am in most magnificent health, growing fatter every day. I went today with the Gen. & rest to the Episcopal Church in Berryville. Mr. Luter preached a very good sermon and the girls all were dressed in their best and looked pretty, the music was good and altogether I enjoyed it highly. And then there was such a glorious dinner for us here [in camp] when we got back, thanks to the good people of Clarke & Jefferson [counties], that I passed really a delightful day, “at charity with myself and all mankind,” which frame of mind I find a good dinner conducive to. I saw Ned Lee at church, and his health seems to be much better now. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving 1621: The “First” Thanksgiving

It’s November 2017, and it’s time to introduce our new Historical Theme of the Month at Gazette665: Thanksgiving Through The Decades. I’ve collected four primary source excerpts about Thanksgiving celebrations in different eras of American History and will be sharing them every Friday this month.

What better decade to start than the 1620’s? After-all, in 1621, the colonists at New Plymouth settlement had a harvest celebration that has been dubbed “the first Thanksgiving” (even though there were thankful harvest gatherings in plenty of other cultures and locations in World History!).

Have you read primary sources about that first American Thanksgiving celebration? William Bradford and Edward Winslow – who were really there – wrote some brief accounts which form our understanding of that special event. (Looking for more blog posts about the Pilgrims? We’ve got a stash in our archive; just click here.) Continue reading

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