A.C.W.S.
Ltd (UK)
ACWS Ltd

CIVIL WAR JARGON

Thought you'ens would be interested in this collection or "utterings" from we'uns. I'm sure you boys can cobble together many more for our titillation!

  • Sardine Boxes - Shoulder Straps
  • Shoulder Straps - Officers
  • Horse Collar - Blanket Roll
  • Beehive - Back Pack
  • Patent Bureau - Knapsack
  • Layouts, Coffee Coolers - Skulkers Sinkers
  • Wevil Fodder - Hard Tack
  • Chin Music - Conversation
  • Slapjacks - Pancakes
  • Shin Plasters - Paper Money
  • Bumble Bees, Swifts - Bullets
  • Cook Stoves, Lamp Posts
  • Iron Foundries, Artillery
  • Tubs. Bootlegs
  • Old Scratch - The Devil
  • Little Coots - Confederate Name for Yankees
  • Showing the White Feather - Cowardice
  • Forty Dead Men - 40 Rounds of Ammo in the cartridge box
  • Haversack - Bread Bag
  • Fast Trick, Pretty Rapid Little Case - A Lady with a Loose Reputation
  • Fire and Fall Back - To Throw Up
  • Cabbaging - Stealing
  • Sow Belly - Bacon
  • Rag Out - To Dress Well
  • Opening the Ball - To Begin the Battle
  • Peddle Lead - To Shoot Fast
  • Discharge - A serious but not dangerous wound leading to a parting of company with the army
  • Traps or trappings - Soldiers Possessions
  • Gunboats - Army Shoes
  • Tenements - Winter Quarters
  • Make a Cathole - To Shoot Someone
  • Grab a Root - To Eat
  • Comrade - Partner
  • A Retreating Reb - Going in search of his Rights
  • Squash Molished - Soldier with hangover
  • Change his Breath - One soldier offering another a drink
  • Sharp Operator - Someone who could Sell s*** to a stable
  • Dogrobber - A Cook
  • Paddy, Mick, Hibernian, Cottier, Son of Erin, Spalpeen, Fenian. Used by both native born American and Irishmen to describe the male Irish immigrants and 'Bridget' was any of his womenfolk.
  • Dutchmen - Germans or soldiers of German Ancestry

The ragged Southerner taunted the well dressed Yankees, saying "We 'uns dont put on our best suits when we go out to kill hogs". Northerners confronted for stealing Southern civilian livestock answered, "he never killed a hog or a chicken unless it refused to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, or failed to give the counter sign".

Pvt. Spencer B, Col B. 28th Mass Vol Inf. "On Picket" Nr Petersburg, Va. March 4 1864


The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, June 1998