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Did You Know?


Did you know that during the Civil War, including the times before and after, it was legal and socially acceptable for a man to beat his wife, provided that the instrument used in the beating was no thicker that his thumb? Thus we get the term: Rule of thumb.

Did you know that in the Civil War, General Stonewall Jackson walked around with his right hand in the air to balance the blood flow in his body? Because he was right-handed, he thought that his right hand was getting more blood than his left, and so by raising his hand, he'd allow the excess blood to run into his left hand. He also never ate food that tasted good, because he assumed that anything that tasted good was completely unhealthy.

Did you know that during the Civil War, glasses with colored lenses were used to treat disorders and illness? Yellow-tinted glasses were used to treat syphilis, blue for insanity, and pink for depression. Thus we get the term, To see the world through rose-colored glasses. When you looked through them, supposedly, you became happy.

Did you know that in the centuries before and decades after the Civil War, including the war itself, doorways were wide, not because of the width of women's skirts, but so coffins could be passed through, with a pallbearer on either side?

Did you know that the average man's salary was between twelve to fifteen dollars a week, and the average man in the North, especially Massachusetts, was employed as a shoemaker? So much for the idyllic picture of rustic farming communities nestled high in the North.

Did you know that the average American in the 1860's could not afford to paint his house, and a painted house was a sign of affluence? In order to keep up appearances, they used cedar clapboards.

Did you know that when a woman mourned for her husband in the 1860's, she spent a minimum of two-and-a-half years in mourning? That meant little or no social activities: no parties, no outings, no visitors, and a wardrobe that consisted of nothing but black. The husband, when mourning for his wife, however, spent three months in a black suit.

Did you know that during the Battle of Gettysburg, pennsylvania, the only civilian to die was twenty-year-old Mary Virginia "Jennie" Wade, who was shot through the heart while making bread? What a way to go.

Did you know that not all battles of the Civil War were fought in the South? The Confederates actually managed to sneak all the way up to Vermont to fight, via Canada.

Did you know that germs were unheard of during the Civil War, and men would drink out of water that thirty yards upstream, a man relieved himself in? Surgeons never washed their hands after an operation, because all blood was assumed to be the same, nor did he wash his instruments.

Did you know that during the Victorian era, the dead were either laid out in their parlors, or, as the Southerners preferred, in their bedrooms? There were no such things as funeral homes; death was a part of life, and the dead remained in the house up until they were buried. The tradition of flowers around the coffin comes from the Victorians trying to hide the scent of rotting flesh.

Did you know that when a child died in the Victorian era, its parents would have a photograph taken of it? They wanted to preserve its memory for as long as possible. A lot of pictures of sleeping children are actually of dead children. Parents would also pose with their deceased little ones in one last family picture.

Did you know that after the Battle of Gettysburg. the discarded rifles were collected and sent to Washington to be inspected and reissued? Of the 37,574 rifles recovered, 24,000were still loaded; 6,000 had one round in the barrel; 12,000 had two rounds in the barrel; 6,000 had three to ten rounds in the barrel. Onr rifle, the most remarkable of all, had been stuffed to the top with twenty-three rounds in the barrel.

Did you know that during the Civil War, muzelloading rifles were preferred over the faster firing breachloaders? The breachloading rifle was invented in 1803 and had been issued by the army in 1825. They were discontinued and all government research stopped in 1840, however, because it was thought that the soldiers would waste ammunition.

And did you know that, today, one of the most popular questions park rangers get when giving tours around Civil War battlefields is: "Did the soldiers have to fight around all these monuments?" One could only smile and say yes: They knew right where to die.