Writing , edict, and speech patterns during the war

Dec 10, 2014
Hello , I was wondering if there any sources or info on the way of writing , the edict and how the people of the 1860s spoke. Any info would be helpful. I'm trying to improve my impression to the fullest extent

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Dec 6, 2017
At this time speech was a regional thing. A very regional thing and to be honest if you're going for an impression you're also going to have to take in to account modern sensibilities. What I mean by this is if the particular soldier/ area had a very strong accent/ speach pattern you may need to tone it down some. A hint or two by all means to add flavor but if your words are impenetrable to the modern mindset then you aren't actually going to be improving things.

That said I would definitely take the advice from the previous post. Look at diaries and letters (though people do not quite speak how they write). It will however point you in the right direction and you are lucky that there are many out there especially if you do not restrict yourselves to soldiers. Civilian diaries and letters in the area you portray may give you hints and tips too.


Brigadier General
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Aug 16, 2015
As to the actual words, phrases and sentences a soldier would use, I agree with @JOHN42768. Actual letters and diaries are the best available guidelines.
As to speech patterns and accent, that is another matter. There are recordings available- some on YouTube- of interviews with elderly CW veterans, The unanswered question is whether the accent recorded in the 20th century is the one they had as young men in the 1860s.
When did American accent variations- for example- what we call a 'southern accent'- as spoken by many in the South today- develop? Did John C. Calhoun sound like a South Carolinian of today? Did antebellum Charlestonians have the same accent as western SC farmers?
Jan 31, 2017
If you're writing about the mid-19th Century rural South, include a sprinkle of old Elizabethan English, " thee" and "thou". There were many, especially where isolated and in the mountains, who clung, and still cling, to their Scot-Irish-Welsh-English (or Quaker) roots. Use terms like "bless 'em" or "bless his heart". Just a sprinkle, as if using spice.


Jul 26, 2018
Newspaper articles and speeches, although more formal than ordinary speech can also provide a sense of the sentence structure and style of the time. Mark Twain was a contemporary author, although I would leave his wonderful use of dialect alone.

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