Soldiers profanity North and South

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
A lot of swearing was still religiously based at that time, so you see profuse use of "d**n," "h*ll," and "godd*mn" in its many forms. Scatological words were popular (sh*t, p*ss) though not in their adjectival form. The f-bomb certainly was in use, but for the actual act, not as an adjective either. I think its use as a synonym for "fouled up" was not in use either. "Son of a b***h" was a popular insult or exclamation, often combined with a "d*mn" "d*mned," or "godd*mned" for good measure. It can also be used to address a group in the plural "sons of b***hes" which is rarely heard anymore. I would direct you to "The History of Swear Words" a Netflix documentary which in the main is accurate in discussing the progression of swearing in English. And is a lot of fun. There is a wonderful discussion about soldier swearing in the old Civil War Times special edition "The Common Soldier of the Civil War " that has some useful and colorful original quotes. When i was 12, it was my favorite part of the magazine. 😊
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
A lot of swearing was still religiously based at that time, so you see profuse use of "d**n," "h*ll," and "godd*mn" in its many forms. Scatological words were popular (sh*t, p*ss) though not in their adjectival form. The f-bomb certainly was in use, but for the actual act, not as an adjective either. I think its use as a synonym for "fouled up" was not in use either. "Son of a b***h" was a popular insult or exclamation, often combined with a "d*mn" "d*mned," or "godd*mned" for good measure. It can also be used to address a group in the plural "sons of b***hes" which is rarely heard anymore. I would direct you to "The History of Swear Words" a Netflix documentary which in the main is accurate in discussing the progression of swearing in English. And is a lot of fun. There is a wonderful discussion about soldier swearing in the old Civil War Times special edition "The Common Soldier of the Civil War " that has some useful and colorful original quotes. When i was 12, it was my favorite part of the magazine. 😊
True about the f-word - pretty widespread as the verb synonym but its expansion as an adjective, pejorative, etc must have started evolving not long after the war, because by WWI it was definitely part of the "arsenal", at least among the Canadians and the Americans. And I've seen references that an even more profane multi-syllable term was involved in some ACW courts-martial. When you see references to a few of the more reputed ACW swearers lacing the air with memorable profanity, my guess is that it was more artful than just "d--ned" or "h--l".
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
A lot of swearing was still religiously based at that time, so you see profuse use of "d**n," "h*ll," and "godd*mn" in its many forms. Scatological words were popular (sh*t, p*ss) though not in their adjectival form. The f-bomb certainly was in use, but for the actual act, not as an adjective either. I think its use as a synonym for "fouled up" was not in use either. "Son of a b***h" was a popular insult or exclamation, often combined with a "d*mn" "d*mned," or "godd*mned" for good measure. It can also be used to address a group in the plural "sons of b***hes" which is rarely heard anymore. I would direct you to "The History of Swear Words" a Netflix documentary which in the main is accurate in discussing the progression of swearing in English. And is a lot of fun. There is a wonderful discussion about soldier swearing in the old Civil War Times special edition "The Common Soldier of the Civil War " that has some useful and colorful original quotes. When i was 12, it was my favorite part of the magazine. 😊
@7thWisconsin you win the asterisk award for the day!
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
It was hard to write! The first draft automatically censored all of them, so the cuss words were just unintelligible ********s. So I had to do it the hard way.
My grandfather used to create marvelous combinations of swear words. His go-to started with "miserable bald-headed" then became more profane as he warmed to the task. Given that he was born in a rural backwoods county in 1914, I suspect that he was drawing on that older very creative swearing tradition.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
I wasn't aware that they did the "f word" or the middle finger thing in the Civil War. That kinda surprises me.

I have always enjoyed the description of Hancock as the "profanest of men in an army of profane men" and wondered what words he would have used and how he would have used them.

In my experience, truly effective communications skills are an art rather than a science.

John
 

111thNYSV

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Location
Rochester NY
Im currently reading a book on the 60th NYSV written by the Chaplain. He doesn't use profanities but he does make mention of it and its high amounts of usage among the men. Not the first time I read about colorful language getting mentioned. I kind of had a feeling the language around an army camp would be colorful. I always laugh to myself thinking about one of our reenactors that continued to profess how the soldiers were perfect victorian gentlemen who never swore or wouldn't show their suspenders. I always told him to read a book and not the general ones about large battles, the first hand day to day books.
 

Si Klegg

Corporal
Joined
Jul 13, 2018
Location
Bedford UK
'The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell' by Thomas P. Lowry, M.D. has some pretty spectacular cussing in the chapter 'Blue with Oaths', along with the full text of the ribald camp song 'Jeff Davis' Dream', 'John Harrelson, John Harrelson' and some excerpts from semi-****ographic 'Dime Novels' and 'Penny Dreadfuls.' Quite an eye-opener 😬
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Just a side bar here - but I wonder if they had any "curse words" that they used that we don't have in our vocabulary today?
4-letter old fashioned curse words. No. Insults? Yes. You could get in a fist fight back then by calling a man a ¨puppy¨ or a ¨d*mned puppy¨ to boot.
(Not a Civil War story, but one that was passed to me by my uncle, my Dad´s older brother. He was an AFS ambulance driver in WW2 and served with the British. When he was in Italy, he saw a Tommy standing on the hood of a jeep that was sunk so deep in the mud that the hood was level with the ground. Tommy Atkins assessment of the situation was ¨The f**kin´ f**ker´s f**ked.¨ My uncle was astounded that the same word could be used successively and simultaneously as an adjective, noun and verb - in order. The English should win an award for swearing.)
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
4-letter old fashioned curse words. No. Insults? Yes. You could get in a fist fight back then by calling a man a ¨puppy¨ or a ¨d*mned puppy¨ to boot.
(Not a Civil War story, but one that was passed to me by my uncle, my Dad´s older brother. He was an AFS ambulance driver in WW2 and served with the British. When he was in Italy, he saw a Tommy standing on the hood of a jeep that was sunk so deep in the mud that the hood was level with the ground. Tommy Atkins assessment of the situation was ¨The f**kin´ f**ker´s f**ked.¨ My uncle was astounded that the same word could be used successively and simultaneously as an adjective, noun and verb - in order. The English should win an award for swearing.)
A certain politician I knew was famous for being able to use the f word as every part if speech in a single sentence.
 
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