D The letter branded with hot irons on soldiers guilty of desertion, usually on their foreheads, cheeks, or hands. Compassionate officers used indelible ink.
dab (or dabster) An expert or person skilled in something. The British still use the word “dab hand” in this way.
daguerreotype An early form of photography in which the image is fixed on a coat of silver that covers a sheet of copper. People who view daguerreotypes also see their own image. Practitioners of the art were known variously as daguerrian artists, daguerreotypists, or daguerreans. Although this system began to be replaced in the mid-1850s by AMBROTYPES, Civil War homes still displayed daguerreotypes, and many soldiers carried those images of their family members and sweethearts into the war.
Dahlgren papers Documents found on March 2, 1864, on the body of Union Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. These documents detailed plans to burn Richmond, Virginia, and assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. These plans were part of a speech intended for Dahlgren’s troops. Dahlgren and 92 of his men were killed by Confederates as they approached Richmond; the papers were discovered by a 13-year-old boy, William Littlepage.
Daily Rebel Banner A Confederate camp newspaper published by soldiers of General Braxton Bragg.
dainty A delicacy; the choice food or drink. On August 20, 1862, a Georgia woman named Ludy Smith wrote a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis complaining about “big generals” stealing wines and food she had sent to soldiers in hospitals who “rarely get sight of the dainties that are sent them…the head ones eats the dainties sent to the sick themselves.”
damaged A coy name for being drunk. It was first used two years before the war. See DRUNK for numerous other terms referring to intoxication.
damned old goggle-eyed snapping turtle A common description given by his troops to Union Major General George Meade, whose ill temper was legendary. Meade, who was not popular, took command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863, and had to rush it immediately to the important battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A fourth of his men were killed or injured, and Meade’s weak pursuit of the