Sunday, October 31, 2010

No Halloween?

I have just finished going through a number of published accounts written by soldiers in the trans-Mississippi and found no mention of either Halloween or All Souls' Day. All Souls' Day at the time of the Civil War was mostly recognized by Roman Catholics and Anglicans, religious groups that did not have large numbers of adherents in the trans-Mississippi. It appears that soldiers in the trans-Mississippi did not sit around the campfire on Halloween and tell each other ghost stories; or if they did, it doesn't appear to be reflected in the written record. If you know of any written accounts by trans-Mississippi soldiers about Halloween or All Souls' Day, then please let me know.

In the meantime, Dale Cox has posted links to some Arkansas ghost stories on his excellent blog, Arkansas in the Civil War.


  1. Alas, I know of no Trans-Miss soldiers' accounts, either. However, on the civilian side see Kate Stone, in Brokenburn, who on Halloween, 1864, in Trenton, Louisiana...."After they left, Lucy and I tried our fortunes in divers ways as it was "All Hallow'e'en." We tried all magic arts and had a merry frolic, but no future lord and master came to turn our wet garments hanging before the fire. There were no ghostly footprints in the meal sprinkled behind the door. No bearded face looked over our shoulders as we ate the apples before the glass. No knightly forms of soldiers brave disturbed our dreams after eating the white of an egg half-filled with salt."

    Vicki Betts

  2. Also civilian, but certainly political, on All Soul's Day--

    MEMPHIS DAILY APPEAL [ATLANTA, GA], December 24, 1863, p. 2, c. 3

    Letter from Mississippi.

    Special Correspondence of the Memphis Appeal.]
    Jackson, December 17, 1863.
    Since my last, I have had nothing of importance to communicate from this benighted region. Through the kindness of an officer at this place, I am permitted to extract the following from a letter written by a sister, (a Miss of fourteen years), living in New Orleans, giving a description of the Confederate grave yard in that city; also a list of all Confederate soldiers buried there, up to the 4th of November last. The description and appearance of this sacred place on "All Soul's Day," will no doubt be interesting to your readers. . . After a description of her visit to the place, she says: "The Confederate graves were beautifully decorated, not one neglected. The presented a glorious contrast to the graves of the Federals, some of which were covered with weeds that made it almost impossible to see the head-boards. Where the Union ladies were we should like to know. In the center of the Confederate burial ground (which is in Cypress Grove) there is a cross about seven feet high, covered with black velvet, and spangled with gold. In golden letters inscribed on the front of the cross, are these words, 'To our Southern brothers, by the ladies of New Orleans.' On the other side, on the cross piece, are three wreaths, the one on each end being red, and the one in the center white--which gives the red, white and red of our flag--while the top of the cross is surmounted with a wreath of olive. The name, regiment, and place of death is inscribed on each head-board. There is not a blade of grass an inch high to be seen about them. Each head-board is entwined with a wreath of evergreen, interspersed with white flowers, fit emblems of the hearts of our dead heroes, while the graves themselves were planted with red and white flowers. . . .

  3. I apologize for not responding sooner to your postings. Although the sources you include are not from soldiers, they are still quite fascinating. The passage from Kate Stone's journal is so vivid that you almost feel like you were there, and the item from the Memphis newspaper is quite detailed. You certainly don't see writing like that in newspapers today!