The Language of the Civil War

By John D. Wright | Go to book overview

S

sabot A soft lead base attached to a cannon shell in a RIFLED GUN. When fired, it flatted toward the grooves cut inside the barrel, giving spin to the shell. This action also created small cuts in the sabot that produced the frightening scream of the flying projectile.

sabots Heavy coarse-leather shoes that had thick wooden soles. The name, a joke on the shoes’ heaviness, came from wooden shoes once worn in Belgium and France. One southern lady, Sarah Morgan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pitied the war’s restrictions that forced her to change shoes “from my pretty English glove-kid, to sabots made of some animal closely connected with the hippopotamus!”

sack To dismiss a person from employment. This term was first heard about five years before the war, and it is still the main word used in Great Britain for firing someone.

sack coat A short, loose coat whose back hung straight from the shoulders. A military version existed for infantrymen.

sacking A coarse-woven cloth made of such materials as hemp and flax. Although mostly used for sacks, southerners sometimes patched their clothes with the rough cloth during the hard times of the war.

sack posset A hot alcoholic drink composed of milk curdled with sack (dry white wine), with sugar and grated nutmeg added and biscuits or a French roll crumbled into it. Possets are such drinks combining hot milk with ale or wine and spices.

sacredamn “Holy damn,” a French-English expression invented and frequently used by the famous “LITTLE CREOLE,” Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard.

saddle-skirt The lower part of a saddle or the part of a horse’s flanks that it covers. Confederate Colonel Bedford Forrest, escaping Fort Donelson in Tennessee before its surrender on February 16, 1862, described the backwaters of an icy creek he had to cross as being “saddle-skirt deep.”

sail in To attack or act boldly. A soldier might say “They outnumber us, but we just have to sail in and surprise them.” This slang term originated about five years before the war.

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The Language of the Civil War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Guide to Related Topics xv
  • A 1
  • B 19
  • C 50
  • D 81
  • E 100
  • F 107
  • G 122
  • H 138
  • I 154
  • J 161
  • K 166
  • L 172
  • M 184
  • N 202
  • O 208
  • P 221
  • Q 242
  • R 245
  • S 259
  • T 293
  • U 308
  • V 314
  • W 318
  • Y 329
  • Z 332
  • Bibliography 335
  • Index 337
  • About the Author 378
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