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Old May 27, 2007, 08:59 AM   #204
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 19,298
Civil War Vernacular

There were many names, words and phrases in the free-and-easy language of soldiers that were universal. It seemed as though some of them had their origin spontaneously, and at the same time, in armies hundreds of miles apart; or, starting at one point, they were carried upon the winds to the remotest camps. Whenever the flag floated, the staff of army life was called "hardtack." Its adjunct, bacon, was known by that name only on the requisitions and books of the commissaries. An officer's shoulder-straps were 'sardine-boxes' and his sowrd was a "toad-stabber" or "cheese-knife." A brigade commander was a "jidadier-brindle'" camp rumors were "grapevines;" marching was "hoofing it;" troops permanently stationed in the rear were known as "feather-bed soldiers;" and raw recruits were "fresh-fish." Among scores of expressions, many of them devoid of sense or meaning except as they were used by the soldiers, were "Grab a root:" "Hain't got the sand;" "Git Thar', Eli;" "Here's yer mule;" "Same old rijiment only we've drawed new clothes;" "Go for 'em;" "Hunt yer holes;" "Bully fer you." The word "bully" - more expressive than elegant - entered largely into the army vernacular; it seemed to "fit" almost anything.
As far as I can tell, "fish" is still used today with reference to newly arrived inmates. The term "fresh-fish" was used as far back as the American Revolution. The only other term that is still used today that I'm aware of is grapevine.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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