Friday, June 29, 2007

Encyclopedia of Civil War Usage: An Illustrated Compendium of the Everyday Language of Soldiers and Civilians

by Webb and Cheryl Garrison

From the publisher:
While there are many encyclopedias and dictionaries of the American Civil War available today, none of them provide a systematic guide to the language used by the generation that fought the war. During the last 150 years language has changed, and as meanings have become obscure or lost, links with the past have dissolved and much of that which had meaning to our forefathers no longer means anything to us.
What did it mean "to cross the bar"? What was a soldier's "big ticket"? What did it mean "to see the elephant" or "to go South"? Why did the armies have so-called ninety-day men and hundred-day men? What were soldiers supposed to do when they heard the commander shout, "Let her go, Gallagher"? How did one "pay tribune to Neptune"? What was a "picket pin"? Could you make a passable meal out of "possum beer" and "secession bread"? How did one "vibrate the lines," and why would one want to attempt such a maneuver?

To address this need, Webb Garrison has pooled his notes from more than thirty years of research and study to produce a dictionary of words and phrases (including nicknames and slang) commonly used during the war. Where appropriate, examples and anecdotes are included to illustrate meanings. Included in this compendium are also the often overlooked naval terms and esoteric formal and informal military expressions that dominate the writing of the Civil War generation. And in what has become a trademark of his work, Garrison profusely illustrates his encyclopedia of word usage with period art and photographs. Completed just weeks before his death in the summer of 2000, The Encyclopedia of Civil War Usage is sure to become a valuable reference work for scholars and laymen alike.

Webb Garrison, formerly the associate dean of Emory University and president of McKendree College, has written more than 55 books, including A Treasury of Civil War Tales, Civil War Curiosities, The Lincoln No One Knows, Amazing Women of the Civil War, Friendly Fire in the Civil War, and Love, Lust, and Longing in the White House.