Civil War Booze - 'Muskets and Applejack'

Oct 25, 2017
Role of booze in Civil War outlined in 'Muskets and Applejack' :

Unusual and interesting books have been written about Civil War ghosts, dreams, curiosities, flags and just plain weird facts, so why not a little volume about Civil War liquor?

Mark Will-Weber has concocted, “Muskets and Applejack: Spirits, Soldiers, and the Civil War” to fill that historical void.

“Alco-historian,” journalist and specialist in liquor and its connection to bygone events, Will-Weber recounts a variety of situations when drinking played an influential role during the 1861-1865 war. Officers often were too intoxicated to direct their troops; soldiers finagled remarkable ways to obtain whiskey or wine; and cavalry raiders were slowed down while sampling applejack.

Will-Weber organized his book using the chronology of war events from the early days of 1861 to the April 1865 surrender, making it easy to check out an important battle or event and see what role liquor might have played in its outcome.

Records indicate that nearly one-third of the more than 375 principal battles during the war were fought in Virginia; thus there are many stories related to Virginia soldiers and events. For example, Will-Weber has several delightful and insightful stories about the Big Bethel fight, the great Union and Confederate ironclads and the Peninsula campaign.

Regarding the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, teetotaler Confederate Col. Daniel Harvey Hill wrote his wife in Charlotte, N.C., just prior to the battle: “Col. Magruder in command is always drunk and giving foolish and absurd orders. I think in a few days the men will refuse to obey any orders issued by him.”


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