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‘The wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls’: Three Scarce Imprints in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Posted on 12/20/2017

These rare works from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society include a game book for children of the Confederacy, a satirical piece devastating to the Copperhead, and a sort of almanac for and paean to Southern women in wartime.

Uncle Buddy’s Gift Book, for the Holidays (1863)

Buddy cover.jpg

In his preface, the anonymous author asserts that:

You are aware that the Southern Confederacy is a new Government—that it is formed by the States which separated in 1860-61 from the Northern states of the Confederacy known as the United States of North America, because of the injustice of the people of those Northern States; and that, in consequence of this separation, those people are waging a cruel and unjust war upon the people of this Confederacy. Now, in consequence of this war, our ports being blockaded, and our means of communicating with other countries cut off, we are unable to obtain a great many things to which we were once accustomed. Among these things, are juvenile books, with which our bookstores were wont to be largely supplied during the holidays, but which we cannot now obtain, and must, therefore, either do without, or procure the substitutes that we can.

He offers his book as a worthy substitute, indeed a superior one because:

You will perceive that it contains a variety of reading, both in prose and poetry, carefully selected for the special object for which the book is published. And while you may be deprived of more elaborate or more sprightly books, I am not sure but that the deprivation will, after all, be to your advantage, for the reason that books better adapted to the wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls will find their way into your hands, and Northern publications, with their religious and political isms, be excluded altogether from Southern patronage.

With some exceptions, it does not appear that most of the prose and poetry is very different from that which the enemy’s children enjoyed. There are familiar themes: honor your parents, be kind to others, be brave, be truthful, be good. Uncle Buddy does offer an original story about a fourteen-year old boy who is permitted to enlist in the Confederate Army, and through his diligence and courage is able to take a number of prisoners of war. He covers himself in glory.

Another story involves a selfish and frivolous girl who shirks her duties to sneak off to play. On her way to her friend’s house she is run over by a horse and wagon and seriously injured. Not unlike Paul on the road to Damascus, the girl receives revelations about her behavior and becomes quite reformed.

“A Mother’s Prayer” could as easily have been offered by the mother of a Union soldier. An excerpt:

Father! in the battle-fray,

Shelter his dear head, I pray,

Nerve his young arm with the might

Of Justice, Liberty, and Right.

Where the red hail deadliest falls,

Where stern duty loudly calls,

Where the strife is fierce and wild,

Father! guard, oh, guard my child!

There are also games and riddles and aphorisms all intended to help the child develop an understanding of and curiosity about the world. Most of the games are intended to amuse the children and perhaps to exhaust them with a great deal of running around. The riddles are possibly intended for those quieter moments after the strenuous play.

26. Why is a pig with a curled tail like the ghost in Hamlet?

34. Why is a short negro like a white man?

38. Why is a man who is making cent by cent at a trade, like Ireland?

40. Why is a Jew in a fever like a precious stone?

50. Why is it advisable to cultivate the friendship of a knock kneed man?


26. It can a tail (tale) unfold.

34. He is not at all (a tall) black.

38. Because his capital is doubling (Dublin).

40. Because he is a Jew-ill (jew el).

50. Because a friend in-kneed is a friend indeed.

The Copperhead Catechism. For the Instruction of Such Politicians As Are of Tender Years. Carefully Compiled by Divers [sic] Learned and Designing Men. Authorized and with Admonitions by Fernando the Gothamite, High Priest of the Order of Copperheads (1864)

Catechism cover.jpg

The Copperheads—Northerners who opposed the Civil War and agitated for a settlement—were largely Democrats. They were widely reviled by the Republicans and the War Democrats. The citation for this imprint notes that there was an 1864 copyright issued to Montgomery Wilson “who may have been the author.”


The times are out of joint, and there is scarcely a Copperhead able at present time to obtain a crumb of the public pickings. It is sad to contemplate the presence of those pernicious influences which overshadow the land, and have caused the “light of other days” to fade into obscurity. Time was when all the pleasant places were filled by those who were “sound upon the goose,” but it is presumptuous in the men who now guide the movements of “Uncle Sam’s web feet,” to arrogate to themselves an ability to deal with the questions of the day equal to that possessed by those who have heretofore, like their Roman prototypes, saved the Capitol by their cackling.

The title refers to Fernando the Gothamite by which the author means Fernando Wood, a Democratic politician who had twice been Mayor of New York City and was the boss of Tammany Hall. He was also a Copperhead with financial ties to the cotton industry.

The catechism follows the form of questions and answers. The answers brook no contradictions.

WHAT is the chief aim of a Copperhead in this life?

The chief aim of a Copperhead is to abuse the President, vilify the Administration, and glorify himself before the people.

What is the purpose he will serve thereby?

He will thereby give assistance to his “friends” in the fulfillment of their desires.

To what end will such assistance lead?

To the uprooting of Abolitionism, the annihilation of Republicanism, the establishment of Copperheadism, the perpetration of a Peace, and the general display of Universal Submission.

The author includes a parody of the Nicene Creed asserting belief in George B. McClellan who “suffered under Edwin M. Stanton; Was refused reinforcements, and descended into the swamps of Chickahominy…” He also rewrites the Ten Commandments, including these three:

I. Thou shalt have none other President than George B. McClellan, nor shalt thou hearken to the voice of any other Leader but me.

VII. Thou shalt not throttle any fat political “job.”

VIII. Thou shalt not steal more than thy share of official plunder.

Finally, it should be noted that the catechism reeks of crude bigotry most of which we will not quote. These are tamer, but no less offensive, examples.

What is negro equality?

A black draught which is unpalatable to the Copperheads, and which runs through the entire body of the Abolitionists.

What are contrabands?

Colored people which the war sent us, and whom we scent a long way off.

What is a suspension of hostilities?

Rebels hanging negro soldiers.

The Southern Women of the Second American Revolution. Their trials, &c. Yankee Barbarity Illustrated. Our Naval Victories and Exploits of Confederate War Steamers. Capture of Yankee Gunboats, &c. (1863)

By H.W.R. Jackson

Southern Women cover.jpg

This unusual compendium of tales of the heroism of Southern women during the Civil War is intermixed with household and gardening advice and detailed accounts of battles with a particular attention paid to a number of warships. This may be because of the large number of women across the Confederacy who raised money to build and equip new ships.

The format of the imprint is somewhat akin to an almanac. There are reprints of credited origins, but many of the inclusions are not provided with any provenance. We include here a selection of excerpts:

Since the first of Jannary [sic], 1863, we have captured, in serviceable condition, seven of the most formidable engines of war the enemy had afloat, which are now being turned to account in a good cause, serving in the Confederate States navy against God-defying infidelity and hell-deserving Abolitionists, who, actuated by the basest instincts of brute nature, confront us with lustful designs of fiends incarnate.

In their last and vilest of efforts, by which they attempt to incite to servile revolt our contented and happy servants, God will cause their barbarous schemes as signally to fail and miscarry as have all their former attempts at subjugation.


If there is a people upon the face of the earth that cannot be made slaves, but which he has appointed as his own people and cagents [sic] to perpetuate the work of civilization, it is the people of the Confederate States of America, the descendants of the Caucassian [sic] and Jewish races who are entrusted with the fostering care and protection of the African race as an institution of servitude to civilization. We are commended to foster and perpetuate this institution for the benefit of future ages. God has commanded us to buy our servants from the heathen nations to be an inheritance to our children and our children’s children.



The Richmond “Whig” has discovered in a record of travel kept by one Thomas Anburey, and published in London in 1791, the following in reference to the derivation and meaning of the word Yankee….he says:

“Apropos—It may not be amiss just here to observe to you the etymology of this term. It is derived from a Cherokee word, enakke, which signifies coward and slave. This epithet of Yankee was bestowed upon the inhabitants of New England by the Virginians, for not assisting them in a war with the Cherokees, and they have always been held in derision by it.”



“Kin you tell me, Sambo, de key to de prosperity of de Souf?”

“Key to prosperity of de Souf? Big words, Juno; guess you must hab been eating massa’s dickshunary. Golly, I ain’t learned nuff to answer that.

“Well, chile ‘tis de dark ey.” —Field and Fireside

For more information about The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact

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