The Language of the Civil War

By John D. Wright | Go to book overview

W

W The letter branded on soldiers considered to be worthless, usually on their foreheads, cheeks, or hands. Officers would hand down the sentence in camp. The branding, however, was usually in indelible ink. See also C; D; T.

wafer A thin disk of paste or adhesive paper used to seal letters or documents.

wag A common camp name for a habitual joker or witty person. The sixteenth-century English word is still sometimes used.

wage slave A southern name for northerners who had to work long hours under harsh conditions for their wages. This popular southern retort to abolitionists included the idea that plantation slaves were better taken care of (free food, free medicine, free housing, etc.) and had less problems than the North’s wage slaves under their economic “bondage.”

wagon dog A nickname give by Confederate soldiers to those among them who became ill and joined the wagons. This retreat was often suspiciously viewed as avoidance of battle.

wagoner The driver of an army wagon that carried supplies, food, and equipment. The U.S. Quartermaster Department was in charge of hiring master wagoners, who were paid at the rank of cavalry sergeants, as well as civilian wagoners, paid like cavalry corporals.

waiter A tray used for serving food and drinks. A Confederate returning with his brigade to Richmond after the battle of Seven Pines in 1862, noted that “Ladies stood in front of their homes with waiters of food and drink, luxuries and wine, which they dealt out unsparingly to wounded soldiers that passed them.”

waiter girl A lovely but supposedly sinful woman who served drinks in concert saloons in New York City, such as the Gaieties and the Eagle Concert Saloon. “Pretty waiter girls” were often highlighted in the saloons’ advertisements during the war, and the naughty women often drew as many customers to the establishment as did the singers and comics.

walking ticket or walking papers A dismissal from work or discharge from the military. The second term became pre-dominant over the years.

walk-over An easy victory. On the first day of the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, Confederate Brigadier General James J.Archer was captured and Union

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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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