Bushwhackers and Copperheads

Words Northerners and Southerners used to name their enemies on the battlefield or at home commonly appear the the CACWL collections. Yankee and rebel are, of course, the most common, but there are many others, and the specific referent can sometimes be complex.  Some Union soldiers from the western states (Ohio westward) seem surprised when Southern civilians refer to them as yankees, since for westerners a yankee was a New Englander.  Before copperhead became a common term for an anti-war Northern Democrat, the terms secesh and butternut, usually meaning Confederate, were sometimes used by Union soldiers in reference to the pro-Southern faction at home. 


Billy  noun  A Union soldier, short for Billy yank. Although Johnny is a common term for a Confederate among Union soldiers, this is the only example of found so far of either Billy or Billy yank

March 26, 1864: as we passed them they were marching the opposite way under guard  one of our Regiment said to the “hey o Johnnie,” and [one] of them said “hey o billy” as if they had been accquanted and on the best of terms. (William Benjamin, CW Doc. Coll. MHI) Kent County, DE


bluejack, bluejacket  noun  A Union soldier; short form bluejack (also a term for a body louse). [HDAS bluejacket, noun, 2.a.]

Oct. 16, 1862:  he could no stand the fire of the blue jackets as he calls us all though we had a hard little battle. (David Peck, Peck Letters FHS) Seneca County, OH

July 21, 1862:  We had to ride over them hills and hunt for the Bluejacks But I could not find them. Sometimes we would ride all night but could not Find any of them Bluejacks. (Wyatt Bastin, Bastin Diary, TSLA) Hickman County, TN

Aug. 4, 1864:  we have the consolation of knowing that we have turned up many a blue Jacket since leaving Dalton that will bleach on the hills of northern Georgia. (Jesse Everhart, Everhart Letter WHM-C) Callaway County, MO


buffalo  noun  A Unionist from eastern North Carolina. [HDAS buffalo, noun, 2.]

Dec. 2, 1864:  a great many bufalows familys is comeing back  i expect it will be hard times with them for something to eat. (Ann Bowen, Bowen Papers NCSA) Washington County, NC


bushwhack  verb  To attack, harrass, ambush; probably a back formation of bushwhacker; also the present participle as noun bushwhacking.

May 20, 1863:  a man was fooling with his gun last night drunk  the pin went off shot him through the body  he died immediately after he was shot  another man went too the Still house and was bushwhack[ed] I havent hird whether he is dead of not. (Jesse Rector, Rector Papers UTA) Rhea County, TN

Sept. 15, 1863:  the boyes bring in Some Rebles ever few dayes  that is bushwhackin. (William Hancock, Hancock Letters, TSLA) Sevier County, TN

Oct. 10, 1863:  it was agood plase to bush whack for the river was deap a nuff to swim. (W. L. Brown, W. L. Brown Papers ETSU) Knox County, TN

June 28, 1864:  the woods is full of Lyouts,  some Bush whacken going on,  a few killed on Both sides. (Robert Cooper, WPA Transcripts TSLA) Hawkins County, TN

ND [1864]:  he told mee that the yankeys was at marshel and ouer men at the mouth of Big ivey and that tha was Bush whacking A Baut Elxanders. (J. W. Reese, Reese Papers Duke) Buncombe County, NC


‘Bushwhacker” took on a more sinister meaning during the war.

bushwhacker, bushwhack  noun  Originally a backwoodsman; by the Civil War it came to mean a guerrilla, outlaw, deserter; someone who operates from ambush; used by both Northern and Southern soldiers and civilians; possibly from Dutch bosch-wachter (forest keeper). See Map. [Bartlett’s  Americanisms (1848) “A raw countryman;” OED bushwhacker, noun, 2.]

Jan. 24, 1862:  I Was garding a secesh prisoner the other night  I had a great deal of Chat With him he is a regular old bushacker. (Joseph Diltz, Diltz Papers Duke) Champaign County, OH

Aug. 27, 1862:  there is about 300 Bushwhackers in this Country  the yankeys is Clost By. (Wilburn Thompson, Thompson Papers Duke) Milton County, GA

Jan. 25, 1863:  there was 6 of our men taken prysoners betwen here and Louisville  they was taken by some bush whackers  there is little bands of them all threw the south. (Andrew Rose, Rose Papers Duke) Cuyahoga County, OH

March 22, 1863:  I hear the yanks have bin thar Sence I left & the last news from thar is that the Bushwhacks is on Valley Riv[er]  I thort they will take all I have left including my negro boys.   (Stephen Whitaker, Whitaker Papers NCSA) Cherokee County, NC

June 22, 1863:  you sed that the bushwhacers had bin shooting at smith and roberson (West Walker, Confederate Collection TSLA) Sequatchie County, TN

Dec. 31, 1863:  we are Guarding they Rail road From manases to Bull run Bridge and we have [to]  Watch them Buchwackers Day and night or else they would Destroy the rail road. (John Boyer, Boyer Papers MHI) Lancaster County, PA

March 14, 1864:  ther is 5 bushwackers to be hung to day so I hear. (David Orne, CW Document Coll. MHI) Worcester County, MA

May 21, 1864:  Some of Capt hineses men got a munst Some bush whakers and one of his men was kild. (Franklin Setzer, Setzer Correspondence UVA) Catawba County, NC

Aug. 10, 1864:  i want you to com hom for the Woods is fool of bushwackets  for cant step out With out Seeing A bush Whacker. (Francis Watkins, Watkins Papers Emory) Franklin County, GA

Aug. 11, 1864:  we cant keep nothing for the brushwhacks  but the secesh is let alone. (Elizabeth Hunter, Hunter-Hagler Letters WHM-R) Jasper County, MO 


'Butternut' was distinctive to the Midwest -- Indiana and Ohio especially.

butternut  noun 

1. A Confederate soldier; uniforms were often colored with dye made from butternut or walnut husks.

Oct. 24, 1862:  well marthy the rebels are being brought into camp evry few days  we call them butter nuts on account of the coler of thare cloths. (Jesse Evans, CW Document Coll. MHI) Vermilion County, IL 

Nov. 25, 1862:  I have not saw a butternut nor A grey back yet tho there are both here  there is some 15 or 16 hundred Sesh [= secesh] prisoners in St Louis but I have not saw any of them yet. (Isaac Marsh, Marsh Papers Duke) Lucas County, IA

Dec. 26, 1862:  our forces went out on the road to day and drove the butternuts back. (Loyal Wort,  Wort Papers BGSU) Defiance County, OH

2. A Southern civilian.

Dec. 24, 1862:  the other day thare was an old Butternut brough[t] in some pies and a couple of the boys bought one and the crust was as tough as leather and the inside was as black as tar. (W. J. Helsley, Helsley Papers FHS) Trumbull County, OH

3. A Northern civilian sympathetic to the South; the citation by W. L. Brown refers to deserters from the Union Army.

Feb. 3, 1863:  I wish this war the lord willing were over but I am not will to se it settled dishonerable as some of your Indiana butternuts would do it. (John McGraw, McGraw Letters SRNB) Wayne County, IN

Feb. 5, 1863:  there is som buternuts in the North that and speciley in Indiania that I would rather see them hung. (Joshua Alfred, Alfred Letters SRNB) Dearborn County, IN

Sept. 7, 1863:  the Buternuts are threatning to Clean us out But we Dont fear them  lutenant Eddie  told the Buternuts the Night [Lieutenant] waterman was Shot  if they wanted to rais A fuss he Could Clean the whole town [= Dayton, Ohio] out. (G. D. Harris, CW Doc. Coll. MHI) Summit County, OH

Sept. 9, 1863:  thare are som buter nuts and coper heads amaking for home  they are not friend to thare cuntry. (W. L. Brown, W. L. Brown Papers ETSU) Knox County, TN


Use of 'copperhead' was widely distributed in the North, from New England to the Midwest.

copperhead  noun  An anti-war northern Democrat, a northerner sympathetic to the South.  As to the origin of the term, many accounts suggest the common depiction of Southerners and Democrats as venomous snakes in political cartoons; others cite the practice of snipping the image of Liberty from a penny coin and wearing it pinned to a lapel or hat, a practice supported by an Indiana soldier who wrote home: you said that the Boys were wearing copper on their hats  I would like to come home and find one on some of their hats  I would see how nigh that I could come shooting it off. (Elijah Israel, Aug. 20, 1863, E. W. Israel Corr. IHS) Johnson County, IN. It is clear from the content of letters written by Union soldiers that the politics of some of the folks at home resulted in sometimes violently negative reactions. See Map.

May 3, 1863:  I am glad to here that thare is A home guard thare and they ought to hang every copperhead that they can find. (Clark Whitten, Whitten Papers MHI) Lucas County, IA

May 13, 1863:  I expect their is a great many Copperheads in dover yet  some of them raskels had aughto be shot. (Andrew Rose, Rose Papers Duke) Cuyahoga County, OH

June 21, 1863:  we are bound not to do any thing to helpe those that will git drafted we want to see them have a chance in draft and it will git some cooperheads it may cure some of them. (Lyman Foster, Foster Papers MHI) Erie County, PA

Aug. 5, 1863:  the boys put a rope around a old copperheads neck and drew him up  but the officers came along and stoped them. (William Tanner, Tanner Papers FHS) Wayne County, OH  

Sept. 9, 1863:  thare are som buter nuts and coper heads amaking for home  they are not friend to thare cuntry. (W. L. Brown, W. L. Brown Papers ETSU) Knox County, TN

Nov. 4, 1863:  they say they would like to clean the copperheads out of the north  them Southern Symphathisers  i would like myself to See them all drawed up in aline & hung one by one. (William Pedrick, Pedrick Papers Duke) Fulton County, NY      

Dec. 4, 1863:  Some of them Copperheads at La Plata ought to be Sent to dixie to fight. (F. M. Emmons, Emmons Letters WHM-C) Macon County, MO

Aug. 19, 1864:  The letters the boys git say the copperheds are beginning to talk large a gin I suppose that they think the rebs are gitting the better of us. (Henry Maley, Maley Letters Notre Dame) Henderson County, IL

Jan. 10, 1865:  dont think because we differ in opinion in war matters that I aint your friend  i can tell you that I think the rebbels and copperheads are all wrong  they will see it when I fear it will be to late. (Elizabeth Hunter, Hunter-Hagler Letters WHM-R) Jasper County, MO 

May-June 1865:  Mr Steeter the Asst Sipt [= superindendent] of Negro aff's at Roanoke Island is a througher Cooper head  a man who Says that he is no part of a Abolitionist. (Richard Etheredge, Freedom Series II, pp.729-730) Tyrrell County, NC


dough face  noun  Anti-war, pro-slavery Northerners. [Bartlett’s Americanisms (1848) “A contemptuous nickname, applied to the northern favorers and abettors of negro slavery.”]

March 29, 1863:  let them [= slaves] cum and help the North fite them out of it [= slavery] and then do faces wold received the benifit of their labor. (Levi Rice, Levi Rice Letters SRNB) Kankakee County, IL 


Fed noun  A Union soldier (clipped form of Federal); this form is mainly used by Confederates serving in the western theatre.  J. W. Reese was serving in one of the few North Carolina regiments in the Army of Tennessee.

Feb. 7, 1862:  we are bound to have a hard fight before long if the feds dont leave their present position. (Moses Bradford, Bradford Letters WHM-R) Phelps County, MO 

July 30, 1862:   said he was at your hous about a month a go  he said you was all well and he said the Feds had run you off again. (Thomas Cardwell, Cardwell Papers UAR) Washington County, AR

Feb. 18, 1863:  Hindmand’s army is fortifying about 15 miles above here at what is called White Bluff but I think it is of no use for I dont think that the feds will ever come up this river further than the Post for it one of changeablest rivers that I ever saw. (J. T. Knight, Knight Letters TSLA) Wood County, TX

Feb. 26, 1863:  there is a bad chance for letters to pass here for this county is still flustrated by the feds. (J. W. Honnoll, Honnoll Papers Emory) Itawamba County, MS 

April 23, 1863:  the feds is advancing on us  tha Capturd A trane of Cars from us nite Be fore last and has taken mcmin vill Just 30 mils from hear. (J. W. Reese, Reese Papers Duke) Buncombe County, NC

April 23, 1864:  I hear the feds is a crossing the river at shaller ford a bove gansvill but I do not beliave it. (W. P. Mangum, Mangum Papers UGA) Jackson County, GA


grayback  noun  A body louse; figuratively: a Confederate soldier. [HDAS grayback, noun, 3. a.]

Nov. 25, 1862:  I have not saw a butternut nor A grey back yet tho there are both here  there is some 15 or 16 hundred Sesh [= secesh] prisoners in St Louis but I have not saw any of them yet. (Isaac Marsh, Marsh Papers Duke) Lucas County, IA

Jan. 24, 1863:  we went out the 10 Brigade as schunishers  when they Come to the rebels They call on the 6 as usial to Start the graybacks out whitch we did. (Terah Sampson, Sampson Letters FHS) Shelby County, KY 

July 5, 1863:  I dont believe that gray backs can crow over us much when the thing is settled. (John P. Campbell, CW Document Coll. MHI) Norfolk County, MA 

March 6, 1864:  I Can worke with some plesure now the gray backs is goan. (John Evans, Chapman Family Papers TSLA) Campbell County, TN


‘Guerrilla’ was used mainly by Union soldiers, including those from Tennessee and Kentucky.

guerrilla  noun  An irregular soldier or partisan.  According to the OED the word is from Spanish guerrilla, the diminutive form of guerra (war). The earliest citation of a soldier engaged in irregular warfare is from 1809, with only two others from the nineteenth century (1840 and 1887). Obviously, the word became common among Union soldiers who served in, or were natives of, the upper South. Numerous variant forms. See Map.

Aug. 2, 1862:  the gurillers is going thrue the cuntry in strong forses cuting oup thar devlement.  (Richard Shocklee, J. D. Cosby Papers WKU) McLean County, KY

Sept. 13, 1862:  thare has bin a gradeal of guriller fighting all a round. (Joseph Skipworth, Skipworth Papers SIU) Jackson County, IL

Oct. 4, 1862:  the other day four of ower men left one of the gunboats and went on the opposite side of the river to get some water and were captured by gerillers. (James Lovering, CW Document Coll. MHI) Middlesex County, MA

March 18, 1863:  there is A talk of Mounting up us upon horses and if thay do I expect we will scarmish the hole country over and drive the grillears out of the country. (Elisha Hawn, Hawn Letters UTK) Morgan County, TN

April 6, 1863:  the genral sais if the grilas burns another train he will burn every town in his comand near whare thay do the develment. (W. C. Hacket, CW Doc. Coll. MHI) Wood County, OH

Sept. 19, 1863:  we hav the rebs to fite her wons and a while thear ar caled grerillers. (J. M. Hammonds, Carson Family Papers GDAH) Pickens District, SC

April 4, 1864:  Liut Chapman stade two night and one day with mee Last week on his Way home to Overturn county Tenn Whear that gerriller fergerson & his Band Rades and kills all thay gett. (John Chapman, Chapman Family Papers TSLA) Campbell County, TN

Aug. 30, 1864:  I lern the Rode is Cut between tallehume and Ware trace i think it is the grilers has done it. (W. L. Brown, W. L. Brown Papers ETSU) Knox County, TN

Sept. 1864:  I tel you Martha that the rebeles an thu gurilers has not pesterd us enny yet. (Amelia Winn,Winn-Cook Papers FHS) Hancock County, KY

Sept. 15, 1864:  if you will com to our lines and call for transportaions you can get it any place you wish to go for este tenn will not be clair of gerrilars for some time. (William Templin, Templin Letter TSLA) Greene County, TN

June 20, 1865:  one of the vets was killed at the Charge at Liberty hill whare Turner was wouned and an other one was killed in S. C. by gerrillers he was murderd. (Thomas LaRue, LaRue Papers MHI) Benton County, IA


jayhawk verb  To raid; to plunder, steal especially from Southern civilians; probably by back-formation of jayhawker; also present participle as noun, jayhawking. See bushwhack. [HDAS jayhawk, verb, 1. and 2.]

Jan. 4, 1862:  Four companies of col Garrison men went out after some rebels but could not find their camp  they went to Dayton burnt it killed 8 men jayhawked all They could and came home satisfied that price [= Gen. Sterlin Price] was going south with his army. (Peter Mark, Mark Family Letters IDL) Marion County, IA

Nov. 2, 1862:  we injoy our selves very well here the boys went out and jayhocked four tirkeys and six chickens. (Henry Johnston, Johnston-Brown Papers MHI) Mercer County, OH

Feb. 24, 1863:  We would love to see civil law enforsed once more in Our distracted County Jayhawking is still going on here  A few nights ago a band of Robbers went to one of Our neighbors houses  he is an Old man and has but one arm to defend himself with. They compelled him to give them three hundred and sixty dollars. (Ellen Christy, E. A. Christy Letter WHM-C) Platte County, MO

Jan. 28, 1864:  If we have to subsist off of the country I am thinking there will be many a hungry belly before we get back but if we have to do any Jayhawking here goes for the clean thing  we are what can do it if it has to be done. (Peter Mark, Mark Family Letters IDL) Marion County, IA

June 18, 1864:  I expect to raise a company of independent Calvery men for the purpose of the defence of the State of Missouri. I have the offer of Captaincy and I think that I shall except of it right away for I dont ever expect to be able to do any thing but ride any more for I am wounded through the thy and ankle and Side. and I think that I shall Jayhawk the Rest of the term of this rebellion. the Gorillas are just murdering the Sitizens Just like Hogs before the slaughter pen. (W. J. Dunn, Dunn Letter WHM-C) Hart County, KY


jayhawker noun  A term for Kansas Unionists who went on raiding expeditions in Missouri; also used more generally in reference to Southern Unionists, particularly irregular soldiers, raiders. See also bushwhacker, tory. [HDAS jayhawker, noun, [origin uncertain2. a. and b. (earliest citation from1858)]

May 11, 1862:  company I went out forageing and were attacted by a band of Jayhawkers  they killed one of our boys. (James Earl, Earl Letter FHS) Preble County, OH

May 27, 1862:  A potion of our corps engaged a number of Jayhawkers about half way [on] our journey We killed one dead wounded another badly took 7 prisoners and captured a lot of guns ammunition and Camp equipag. (S. H. Hynds, Hynds Letter TSLA) Jefferson County, TN

Dec. 14, 1862:  I am sory to think that you and Jane are slited at the Longs partie but I think iff the one hundred and eight teenth jayhocker [118th Ohio Inf.] gets home this winter we will show how we can slite them. (Henry Johnston, Johnston-Brown Papers MHI) Mercer County, OH

Feb. 24, 1863:  Uncle Jimmie is still in the millitia  he was gaurding the river the last I heard from him to keep the Jayhawkers from coming over from kansas. (Ellen Christy, E. A. Christy Letter WHM-C) Platte County, MO

May 1, 1864:  they have arrested and got in prison about one hundred & fifty (1,50) of our Union men merely because some of them was Jay hawkers. (Harrison Mark, Mark Family Letters IDL) Marion County, IA


Union soldiers used the term ‘Johnny’ more commonly than ‘Johnny reb.’

Johnny  noun  A Confederate soldier, short for Johnny Reb.  See Map

Feb. 5, 1863:  their will be not so much marchen to do their for me to go and carry the napsack on my back for 15 to 30 miles a day and then get shot at by the Jonnys. (William A. Smith, Smith Letters MHI) Chester County, PA

June 24, 1864:  The Johnnys Could not get their Men to Charge on our Breast Works. (Alpheus McGriff, McGriff Papers FHS) Warren County, OH

Aug. 13, 1864:  the guns that they set the the town on fire with was a 39 lb and a 64 lb gun. you better believe they sound heavy they must bother the Johnnies like thunder. (Henry Maley, Maley Letters Notre Dame) Henderson County, IL

Oct. 12, 1864:  I had quite talk with a wouned Jonnie  they do not like Hood  they are gieting disscourage in his success  they think that chargeing is geting old and ot [= ought] to play oute. (Thomas LaRue, LaRue Papers MHI) Benton County, IA

Oct. 16, 1864:  whe can talk to the Joneys and bid them good morning and salute them with a shell every once in about 20 minnits. (Francis Patrick, F. Patrick Papers MHI) Oneida County, NY

May 10, 1865:  it did not look right to see the Johnnys and the yankees all mixed up to gether  them armed and us armed and all passing a bout to gether  all peaceable. (A. J. McDonough, McDonough Letter TSLA) Hickman County, TN


Johnny gray  noun  So far, Meshach Larry is the only Union soldier to use this term; the HDAS has an entry with a single citation for Johnny Grayback.

Dec. 8, 1863:  hearing a noise in a building that was locked I broke in the door thinking I might find a johny Grey but judge of my surprise when there came toward me a huge bull Dog. (Meshach Larry, M. P. Larry Papers MHS) Cumberland County, ME


Johnny reb  noun  This term has turned out to be surprisingly rare, with only four occurrences, all from Pennsylvania; W. A. Smith also uses the unusual form Johnny rebel.

April 24, 1863:  the Irish Brigade has to stay hear to keep the Jonney Rebes from comming over hear from Fredricksburg. (W. A. Smith, Lewis-Leigh Coll. MHI) Chester County, PA

Dec. 3, 1863:  general grant is giving the Johney Rebs fits in Tenisee. (Elijah Foster, Foster Family Papers MHI) Erie County, PA

Dec, 27, 1863:  i tell you that i watched for a Jonny reb. (Samuel Hartman, Hartman Papers Duke) Snyder County, PA


Lincolnite  noun and adjective  

1. A Unionist in a Southern or border state.

Dec. 9, 1861:  the health of the regiment is much better than it was some time back  if the lincolnites should come I think we will be able to give them a fare showing. (J. E. Patton, Patton Papers Duke) Buncombe County, NC

June 24, 1863:  I am an acting Justic of the peace for th County of Chatham an living in the South west corner of Said Conty near Moore and Randolph Countys whar ther is a grate many linconits deserters an Conscripts. (Wesley Jones, Vance Papers NCSA) Chatham County, NC

Aug. 27, 1863:  the news is now that the yankeys is above her beyond Bristol this cuts us off intiraly & we are lookin to be attacted every day  we are in the mids [= midst] of Lincoleites & Surounded by yankeys. (Stephen Whitaker, Whitaker Papers NCSA) Cherokee County, NC

April 30, 1864:  Jane I sent you word to speak good words for me to some good looking Lincolnite girl & you never sent me no Answer whether you had or had not. (B. F. Mozingo, Chapman Family Papers TSLA) Campbell County, TN

2. A Union soldier or militiaman.

July 19, 1861:  We divided in groupes of from four to six men 250 or 3 hundred yds apart to watch the Lincolnites, if they had attempted to come to see us.(W. T. Balkcom, Farmer Family Letters GDAH) Twiggs County, GA

Aug. 20, 1861:  at 11 oclock in the night thare came 8 men with information that thare had got off 500 of the flateheaded dutch linconites no[r]then robers to take horses muls and the best what did I Say yes the best Sitisens of the cuntry to take them up for apinion Sake only. (Coleman Bruce, Bruce Letter CACWL) Moniteau County, MO 

Feb. 18, 1862:  we heard the Linconites were about 40 miles from here and yesterday every body was huddled around the streets looking every minute for them to come to Gallatin. (Laura Williams, L. Williams Letter TSLA) Sumner County, TN


‘Reb’ had widespread use among Union soldiers, including those from Kentucky and Tennessee.

reb noun  Short form of rebel, a Confederate soldier; in general use by Union soldiers, including those from Kentucky and Tennessee. After rebel it is the most commonly used term to label Confederates. See Map.

May 30, 1863:  I went throu Shantilla battle ground and saw one man sitting up against a trea ded. I dont know whether he is a reb or a union man but he sitts there yet. I went a little further and found a mans leg. pulled out of a hole and throwed down. (John P. Campbell, CW Document Coll. MHI) Norfolk County, MA

Dec. 12, 1863:  I was attacted by the gurillars once on my trip one mile and a half from the Tennessee line  we kiled one of the rebs and wounded four. (W. H. Curtis, Watters-Curtis Papers FHS) Estill County, KY

Feb. 16, 1864:  one of the guards at Camp Morton the reb prison discoverd a rebel prisoner emerging from a hole in the ground outside of the incloseure and quick as thought poped him over The bullet took effect in his head killing him instantly. (Franklin Marshall, Marshall Letter IHS) Summit County, OH

Aug. 9, 1864:  we coverd the Ded rebs up with som Dirt an stayd thare tel the next mornin when we started Back to Decater  we fech our Ded Back to Decater whare tha was Beryed. (William Hancock, Hancock Letters TSLA) Sevier County, TN

Jan. 31, 1865:  old hood slipt in arownd knashville he told his Rebs that they Would take knashville and recruit up their army there this winter but We heard of it and did not like the plan. (D. R. Phelps, Phelps Letters TSLA) Blount County, TN

March 8, 1865:  I suppose my old banjo hangs behind the door yet with A bout one string on it  I think I will have it strung up in A bout 6 months if some reb dont shoot me  their is A chance for that yet. (Henry Maley, Maley Letters Notre Dame) Henderson County, IL


‘Secech’ became a common usage early in the war, not just for Southern soldiers and civilians, but also for anti-war Northern democrats.

secesh  noun and adjective  Short form of secessionist; often used as a collective noun and frequently used attrbutively; numerous variant forms (see citations). including sesesh, cesesh, cesech, secech. See Map. [OED secesh, noun and adjective]

1. Civilian supporters of the Condederacy.

Feb. 11, 1862:  we had a nice time of it Dancing the weevily wheet but I did not play any my self I had thought it would be a Sesesh weding but thare was Sum union boys   I enjoyed my Self much beter than I xpeceted  you do not now how I hate Sesesh Company. (Emily Harrel, Dunn Letters FHS) Breckinridge County, KY 

March 12, 1862:  Nashville is a Purty Place and it has the appearance of being a buissness Place at one time but Buisness is suspended there now  all the stores and Buisness shops are Closed and the City is diserted of nearly all its inhabitants except the Ladys [= prostitutes] and they are all secesh and wear a secesh flag for Aprons and have a belt around their waists with an Ivory handled Colts Ravolving Pistol of the best quality sticking in it. (Henry Erisman, Erisman Letters MHI) Lancaster County, PA

Nov. 2, 1862:  there is not many folks her now  they are most all of them gon  there is once in a while an old Secesh here  the man that owns the farm wher we are is an old secesh and brother to that old Mason that was taken Prisoner with Slidell. (Josephus Jackson, Josephus Jackson Papers Duke) Rutland County, VT 

May 3, 1863:  the women are more sescesh then the men and ar mor spies  the[y] ar with the Officers and I think they find out a Good Deal  there is to much Whisky in Camp. (James Pratt, Pratt Papers MHI) Norfolk County, MA

May 2, 1864:  I think not short of fifty at the least the hot head secess about here glory in the duration of the ware as long as they can keep out.  god help the contentions ignorant creturs. (James Zimmerman, Zimmerman Papers Duke) Forsyth County, NC

Aug. 11, 1864:  we cant keep nothing for the brushwhacks  but the secesh is let alone. (Elizabeth Hunter, Hunter-Hagler Letters WHM-R) Jasper County, MO 

Sept. 1864:  rations that the goverment allows the contrabands are sold to the white secech citizen’s, and got out the way at night.  its no uncommon thing to see weman and children crying for something to eat,  Old clothes sent to the Island from the North for contraband’s are sold to the white secesh sitizen's. (Ned Baxter, et al., Freedom I, p. 203) Tyrrell County, NC

Feb. 2, 1865:  the sesesh men dos hate to own [= admit] that we are whiped  they wont talk about it if they can help it  it dos me good to tell it to them but they hav to own it. (Martha Poteet, Poteet-Dickson Letters NCSA) McDowell County, NC

March 9, 1865:  the Gentlemen that ration [= issue rations] the Contrabands had Gone a round to all the White School-Teachers and told them to Give the boys orders to goe and get they ration on a Cirtain day  So the negros as we are Call are use to the Cesesh plots Suspicion the Game they was Going to play and a Greate many never Sent they Children. (Richard Boyle, Freedom I, p. 233) Tyrrell County, NC

2. Confederate soldiers; used by Union soldiers, including those from Kentucky and Tennessee.

Oct. 19, 1861:  We hav a force of About 1,500 here and are ready for that meny more secesh but there is no danger Of geting into a fight for they are Retreating back into Tenn. (John Dow, Dow Papers FHS) Licking County, OH

Oct. 31, 1861:  we had a secesh prisner fetch in our camp yesterday  sum of our cumpeney tuck him into jale. (William Band, Band-Martin Papers MHI) Delaware County, PA 

Jan. 7, 1862:  they went over on the north mo [= Missouri] RR where the Secesh had been burning bridges and tearing up the rail road. (John Boucher, CW Document  Coll. MHI) Washington County, IL

Jan. 24, 1862:  they say the sesh has all fled from romney [West Virginia]. (Joseph Diltz, Diltz Papers Duke) Champaign County, OH 

April 18, 1862:  i think that the Rebels Cant fite Mutch longer  they are expecting a big batol evry Day  our army and the Secsh Is in too Mils of eath other. (Juniper Watters, Watters-Curtis Papers FHS) Estill County, KY

July 12, 1862:  the Tennessee Boys will fight  they will not run from secesh. (Lewis Jones, Lewis Jones Papers Duke) Morgan County, TN         

3. Anti-war Democrats in the North. 

Jan. 21, 1862:  read this letter to Conelus Tolen  he will give the Cecesh hark from the tomb petecular George Beal and some more of that bread [= breed] and some of the Craborchard people.  (Isaiah Ripley, Ripley Letters FHS) Guernsey County, OH

March 1, 1863:  i bleave thate ite [= the Emancipation Proclamation] has hurte the rebels werse then evry victry we have gande ande well do tha noite ande So dos the leaders of the northwestern Sesesh to. (Isaac Liston, Liston Letters IHS) Vigo County, IN

April 15, 1863:  you rote about some leters has bin sent to the Boys that the democrat[s] Was all cesh.  (Jackson Dawalt, Dawalt Papers FHS) Washington County, IN


seceshor man, secession, secessioner, cecations, cecesher  noun  A secessionist, a Confederate soldier or civilian. See secesh.

May 30, 1861:  we got a Dispatch that we had to go Back that the Sesesioners had toren the Briges away and We Couldend Cross. (Henry Schmidt, Schmidt Papers FHS) Auglaize County, OH

July 7, 1861:  I think I can Kill a Cecesher as far as most of the men and allow to give it a trial.  (Harvey Miller, Miller Letters IHS) Cass County, IN

Oct. 8, 1861: the grave whare the cecations was Beried is within one hunderd yardes of our tentes  thare is some over two hunderd Beried in one grave it is about 50 feet long & 4 wide. (W. T. Gore, Gore Letters WHM-C) Cumberland County, IL

Nov. 10, 1861:  I went to a mans house this morning and he was a seceshor man  he give me as many apples and tirnups as I wanted. (Hillory Shifflet, Shifflet Letters MOHS) Madison County, KY

July 31, 1862:  they was not secessioners for they was for the younion  I hate the name of secession for hit has cased so meny to see truble when hit cood ben hope [= helped] if they had atride. (L. W. Griffin, Griffin Letters NCSA) Rutherford County, NC


'Tory' was not widely used, although it enjoyed some circulation among soldiers from the Appalachian region of North Carolina and Tennessee.

tory  noun  

1. A derogatory term used by Confederates to label Union sympathizers in Southern or border states. [OED tory, noun, 4. b.]

Dec. 8, 1861:  I tell you we have had hot times down heare with the toryes  we be gan to think we would have fighting right at home but they ware to[o] big couards to fight. (Louisa Rector, Rector Papers UTA) Rhea County, TN

June 7, 1862:  I Say dam a tory fur tha are wors then a yankey. (Henry Robinson, Robinson Letters Emory) Jackson County, GA

May 13, 1863:  we cotch a tory as we came on and kild him and the tories shot at our boys and shot one threw the hat. (Daniel Revis, Revis Letters NCSA) Henderson County, NC

June 24, 1863:  I had rather Suffer a most any thing than to be Cald a tory or a Linconite. (Wesley Jones, Vance Papers NCSA) Chatham County, NC

April 17, 1864:  I hope I may live to see our country free of blu coats ons more I then wante all those tories in northern Alabama cought and hang to one long pole. (John Rogers, Confederate Miscellany Emory) DeKalb County, AL

2. A term used by Union soldiers to label Confederates (rare).

Feb. 1862:  we intered the field in time of the fight and raised a yell and you ought to see the toryes throw down their guns and run. (J. N. Haggard, Haggard Letter TSLA) Anderson County, TN 

Sept. 12, 1862:  We have to return to Old Ky once more to drive back the envader  Sorrow am I to think that Ky is envaded by the abomniable tory again. (Lewis Dunn, Dunn Letters FHS) Grayson County, KY    


yank  noun  Short form of yankee; yank is an uncommon form with only 16 letter writers using it.

March 26, 1862:  I think we will whip the yanks out eny how so bad they will have to rest a while.  (T. M. Price, Price Papers Duke) Lawrence County, MS

Aug. 27, 1862:  we are in about ten miles of the yanks. (Wilburn Thompson, Thompson Papers Duke) Milton County, GA


yankee  noun 

1. variant form

Nov. 9, 1862:  on the 8 nov the yankers run our pickets in. (Henry Baker, Henry Baker Papers Duke) Catawba County, NC

2. Used by Union soldiers and their families from East Tennessee to describe northerners.

Sept. 12, 1863:  I expect you hear the nuse as fast as ido  the yankeys is as nie you as the rebs is me.  (W. L. Brown,  W. L. Brown Papers ETSU) Knox County, TN

March 23, 1864:  the rebels has striped you and I dont care if the Yankees takes everything he has got. (R. L. Houston, WPA CW Transcripts TSLA) Blount County, TN    

April 11, 1864:  he requests me to write to him how I am getting along and says the Yankies hasent hurt him any yet. (Henry Misemer, Misemer Letters TSLA) Monroe County, TN

May 3, 1864:  Wee have peaceable times hear now Some few yankies pasing Every day a Long the Rode But pester noboddy. (John Chapman, Chapman Family Papers TSLA) Campbell County, TN

3.  Originally a native of New England; during the Civil War used by Southerners to refer to Northerners in general.

May 29, 1862:  the people here are begining to form a pretty good opinion of the yankies  they call us all yankies. (Loyal Wort, Wort Papers BGSU) Defiance County, OH


NEXT: Gone Up the Spout

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