1862 December 25: Christmas 1862
The following articles are from The Polk County Press of several different dates. The two images are from Harper’s Weekly, which the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Library also has on microfilm.
“Santa Claus in Camp,” by Thomas Nast appeared on the cover of the January 3, 1863, Harper’s Weekly, and Nast’s “Christmas Eve 1862″ appeared inside that same issue. For an excellent discussion of these two Nast drawings and the Civil War in 1862, see Dr. Elizabeth Hoole McArthur Dalton’s “Civil War Anniversary: Santa Claus and the Christmas of 1862.”
— The Editor with this issue presents his warmest regards, and wishes his patrons one and all a Merry Christmas.—The Polk County Press, December 20, 1862.
A “GOOD THING.”—Billy Wilson’s Shooting Match, on Christmas day. Turkeys and Chickens were made victims of unerring rifles by the dozen, and the “Sports” enjoyed a “Merry Christmas” generally.—The Polk County Press, January 3, 1863.
— On Christmas, all the inmates of Camp Randall, some 1,500 strong, were treated to a grand dinner by the ladies of Madison and vicinity. Among the profusion of edibles served up, were four hundred and fifty turkeys, and other delicacies in proportion. The exercises of the day closed with an oyster supper at the festive hall of your portly friend, John L. Dale (somewhat lightly styled “The Globe” by some of the more irreverent of the officers in camp,) which was well attended by the officers, and pronounced to be a “big thing” in its way. Oh, the hardships of War!—The Prescott Journal, January 7, 1863.
The Wounded Soldiers’ Christmas Dinner.
Nowhere else in the world than in America could have been seen the sight which has made this holiday in Washington remarkable and memorable—the banqueting of 35,000 wounded and sick soldiers upon a Christmas dinner spread by the hands of individual benevolence.
Tables were set and abundantly and elegantly covered in the largest wards of the different hospitals. The rooms were ornamented by volunteer hands with evergreens and flowers. Volunteer waiters, gentlemen and ladies of the first families in the land, tenderly and devotedly served the wounded warriors in every hospital, waiting first on those too much injured to be moved to the table.
The feasting of this army of wounded thus honored and cared for was a touching sight. To make the festive occasion complete in most of the hospitals, hired or volunteer singers sang songs of home and of country ; in others, members of Congress and Cabinet officers made speeches happily fit to the occasion, and moved socially among the tables.
In one or two the Presidint [sic] found time to bring excitement and sunshine with him among the bandaged and beeratched [sic] revelers. Over seven thousand turkeys and chickens were consumed at this novel Christmas dinner.
This immense amount of poultry came mostly from Maryland and Pennsylvania, but four car-loads of it came all the way from Chicago. Three hundred turkeys, sent from ever-generous Albany, came cooked and ready for the table.—Polk County Press, January 10, 1863.