“The habit of wearing the beard is a manly and noble one. Nature made it distinctive of the male and female; and its abandonment has commonly been accompanied not only by period of general effeminacy, but even by the decline and fall of States…. Those, assuredly, blunder, who ridicule the wearing of the beard. Silly affectation, or the contrary, is imputable only to those who, by removing the beard, take the trouble so far to emasculate themselves and who think themselves beautiful by an unnatural imitation of the smoother face of women.”

-Alexander Walker, Beauty (1836)

What was it that spurred the growth of beards across America in the mid 19th century? Ed gets to the root of the trend on our fashion episode:

Photos: unidentified daguerreotype portraits from the studio of Matthew Brady, mid 1840s-1860s. Library of Congress.



Civil War Dominos & Playing Cards

Soldiers Playing Cards In Camp (Library of Congress)

During the war, soldiers enjoyed many idle hours in camp. Time was spent in repairing uniforms, writing letters, guard duty, fatigue duty, spiritual activities, and engaging in other pursuits, such as playing cards and dominos. It was common for soldiers to carry cards and dominos in their haversacks, knapsacks or pockets.

Playing cards of the period were plain, lacking numbers and markings on the face cards. Dominos were made of various materials including wood, bone and ivory.

Gambling and card playing were condemned by many chaplains on both sides as a violation of the Christian faith. Aided by families at home, chaplains and religious leaders tried to convince soldiers to end the practice. Some men took such persuasion to heart and divested themselves of their cards; others threw decks of cards away as they marched into battle, only to retrieve them later. Undoubtedly, many soldiers carried both playing cards and Bibles, a representation of the on-going battle in their minds between the sacred and secular worlds.

Image Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 30417 & 30433 Springfield-Greene County Library System