The Language of the Civil War

By John D. Wright | Go to book overview
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the Yankee anniversary An ironic southern name for the Fourth of July, a date which the South had been so instrumental in creating.

“Yankee Doodle” The popular American song that became taboo in the South following secession. Mary Boykin Chestnut, the daughter of a South Carolina governor, recorded in her diary that Mrs. Scott, a northerner visiting in 1861 before the war, had played the tune on a piano and “the Judge came in and calmly requested her to ‘leave out the Yankee while she played the Doodle.’”

the Yankee Invasion A southern name for the Civil War, coined in 1861.

Yankeeized In the South, the process of adopting northern ways. The term was heard during the war in areas occupied by Yankees and was common during Reconstruction.

“the Yankee nurse” The sarcastic nickname given by the southern press and public to President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, because she visited Union soldiers in hospitals, bringing them fruit and wine.

yard-paling A PALING or other type of fence around a yard. Confederate Major General Daniel H.Hill, called to a meeting at General Robert E.Lee’s headquarters in a Richmond house, rode up and recognized Major General “STONEWALL” Jackson “leaning over the yard-paling, dusty, travel-worn and apparently very tired.”

“Yates’ Hellions” The nickname for the wild new regiment that, in June 1861, became Ulysses Grant’s first command. Officially the 21st Illinois Volunteers, it was named for the state’s governor, Dick Yates. Grant, a 39-year-old colonel, was mortified to find a regiment of hell-raising, hard-drinking, hen-house-robbing farmboys. “I guess I’ve come to take command,” he announced, and soon he had the Hellions shaped into tolerable soldiers. Eight months later, they had two victories in northeast Tennessee, capturing Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, where Grant earned his nickname of “UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER.” He was immediately elevated to brigadier general.

yawper A person who yelps and shouts. A Union soldier, noticing General Ulysses Grant paying no attention to troops cheer-


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