Do You Know Civil War Slang?

HISTORY

Heather Cahill

6 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

“Them yellow dogs are just coffee coolers … it was their fault we rout from the battlefield.”

If you’re a Civil War reenactor or like to read about the Civil War era, you’ll know that this sentence meant that the cowardly soldiers who lagged behind the battle lines were responsible for the unorganized withdrawal (which usually results in the other side winning). Slang was frequently used among soldiers in the Civil War. Slang is usually restricted to a specific context or group of people. In this case, the context was the horrendous war and the group of people were the soldiers on each side. The common and repetitive experiences among this group allowed a type of informal language consisting of words and phrases to thrive.

That’s why most soldiers knew that if you were wallpapered because you had too much tar water, then it would be smart to take away your musket and hornets until you slept if off! Although recounting the slang is fun, it was a serious and costly war, in lives and breaking families apart. Understanding the slang is one way to learn more about the everyday experience of those who fought. Now it's your turn to decipher the slang of the Civil War. Get out some goobers to munch while you take this quiz. Start now!

What are coffee coolers?

Coffee coolers was a term used to refer to useless soldiers in the Civil War. The term was used to describe soldiers who would lag behind the battle lines as well.

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What is a 'yellow dog?'

'Yellow dog' was a term to describe a soldier who was seen as a coward. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Bob ran from battle today, he's a yellow dog."

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What term was used for peanuts?

'Goobers' was the term used for peanuts. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Hey, Possum. Grab me a bag of goobers when you're out please."

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What is a musket?

A musket is a gun. This gun was often used by soldiers during the Civil War. Two popular Civil War era muskets are the Richmond and the Springfield.

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What is a 'nom-de-guerre?'

A 'nom-de-guerre' is a nickname earned while in the war. A few examples of the nom-de-guerre include, 'Little Billy,' 'Old Reliable' and 'Hero of Little Round Top.'

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What does 'rout' mean?

'Rout' is the withdrawal of troops from the battlefield. This is usually done in an unorganized way, and results in the other side winning.

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What was the term used for liquor?

'Tar water' was the word used for liquor. Here is the word used in a sentence: "Hey, bartender. I'll take a tar water if you don't mind."

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What is a bust head?

A bust head is home brewed beer. The word was used in the Civil War to talk about home-brewed beer or an inexpensive type of beer.

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What word was used to describe the state of drunkenness?

Wallpapered was used to describe a state of drunkenness. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Bill was wallpapered after a long day yesterday."

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What term was used for 'bullets?'

'Hornets' was the term used for bullets. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Be careful, Possum. Don't forget to watch out for those hornets."

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What is drissely?

Drissely was the term used for rain during the Civil War. Here is the word used in a sentence: "The drissely is coming over the mountain."

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What is an 'Arkansas Toothpick?'

An 'Arkansas Toothpick' is a slang term used for a knife. The knife got the last part of it's name from soldiers who used the knife to pick their teeth.

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What word was used to express something that was wanted?

Hanker was the word used to express a want during the Civil War. Here is the word used in a sentence: "I hanker you to go get me a beer from the bartender."

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What is brackish water?

Brackish water is water that is undrinkable. This term is also used for sea water that is mixed with fresh water. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Don't drink that, it's brackish water."

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What does 'attend to the inner man' mean?

'Attend to the inner man' means to eat. Here is the term used in a sentence: "I'm about to go an attend to the inner man, I am starving."

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What is a 'federal?'

A federal is a term that was used to refer to a Union soldier. The Union side of the army as a whole was also referred to as the Federal Army.

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What is the sink?

A sink during the time of the Civil War was known as the toilet. The proper name for the toilet was "latrine." At the time of the war, these were not as clean and sanitary to use as they are today.

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What is a hospital rat?

A hospital rat is a soldier who fakes their sickness. This was usually done in an attempt to stay out of battle for as long as they could.

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What was the term 'try our metal' used to communicate?

The term 'try our metal' was used to tell someone to find out just how strong the speaker was. It communicated how strong an army thought themselves to be.

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What was a surgeon referred to as?

'Sawbones' was a word used for surgeons. Here is the word used in a sentence: "He had to visit a sawbones to find out what they could do for his wound."

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What term was used to refer to new soldiers in the army?

"Green Troops" is a term used for new soldiers. These soldiers often had never fought. Here is the term used in a sentence: "The green troops have arrived."

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What term was used to express comfort?

'Snug as a bug' was a term used to express comfort. It still exists and is used often today. Here it is being used in a sentence: "I'm snug as a bug."

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What term was used for communicating that you were healthy?

The term 'fit as a fiddle' was used to communicate that you were healthy and doing fine. Here is the term used in a sentence: "I went for a checkup with my doctor and I'm fit as a fiddle."

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Who were the Yellow Hammers?

Troops from Alabama were called the Yellow Hammers. This was due to their well recognized uniforms. The name still exists today.

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What word was used for an outhouse during the Civil War?

'Irish Shanty' was a term used during the Civil War to refer to an outhouse. Here it is used in a sentence: "Can you point me to the nearest irish shanty?"

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What term was used for a criminal?

'Jailbird' was the term that was used for a criminal during the Civil War. It is still used today. Here is the term used in a sentence: "I don't want to become a jailbird."

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What word was used for a new soldier?

'Paleface' was the term used for a new soldier in the army. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Did you meet the paleface yet? His name is Jim."

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What word was used to refer to a friend in the Civil War?

'Possum' was the term used to refer to a friend during the Civil War. It was a term of endearment. Here is the word used in a sentence: "Hey, Possum! How are you?"

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What is a 'bummer?'

A 'bummer' is a forager who is typically a soldier as well. These people were known to not play by the rules and often found easy ways out by bumming off of other soldiers.

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What are 'jim-jams?'

'Jim-jams' was a term that was used to describe someone who is delirious. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Joe was brought back to camp today, he had a case of the 'jim-jams.'

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What word was used when speaking of a dead body?

'Somebody's darling' was used when speaking of a dead body. Here is the term used in a sentence: "Somebody's darling was left on the battlefield today."

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What is a 'greyback?'

A 'greyback' is a bad person, or more specifically, a soldier from the Confederate Army. This was a term that the Union Army often used to refer to their enemies.

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What is the 'red badge of courage?'

'Red Badge of Courage' was the term used for a wound. A wounded soldier wore a 'red badge of courage.' It was a term to describe the selflessness and courage you had to forge into battle.

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What was the expression used if something was considered to be rare?

'Scarce as hen's teeth' was used to describe something rare. Here is the word used in a sentence: "Food these days is scarce as hen's teeth, we'd better find something more to eat soon."

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What was a 'pepperbox?'

A 'pepperbox' was a pistol. Many different pistols were used during the Civil War with a few of them being the Colt 1861 Navy, the Elgin pistol and the Remington Model 1858.

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