An 1863 Thanksgiving for the 17th Connecticut

Since we’ve just finished up yet another Thanksgiving and the insanity of “Black Friday”, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at a different time in our history…in this case, Thanksgiving 1863. President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be a national Thanksgiving Day. Writing home to the Danbury Times under the pen name of “Manton”, Private J.Montgomery Bailey of Company C gave his readers an idea of how the 17th Connecticut spent Thanksgiving in South Carolina. Here’s a snippet of his column (with a slight dig at Joe Hooker’s military prowess and appreciation for his improvement of rations) –

“Thanks to our most excellent President for his appointment of Thanksgiving, as it gave us a day of rest, free from any duty. You need not think because we are so far from Washington we had nothing extra on that day, for we did, the dinner proving quite a pleasant contrast to that of a year ago at Chantilley, within thirty miles of the Capitol. Then if I remember correctly, our mess praised the Lord with four fried tack and a cup of coffee each. This year we had codfish and potatoes, boiled onions, and a goodly sized oyster stew, with soft bread and butter, which leads me to believe that there is a gratifying increase in our gratitude. Vegetables are in abundance here, and can be bought at a cheaper rate than in the Army of the Potomac, and if Joe Hooker were in Gilmore’s place no better department could be desired, so far as living good is concerned. Joe’s strategy in the Commissary lines was a perfect success, whatever it might have been elsewhere.”

Happy Thanksgiving!