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Civil War Letters

Private Voices, also known as the Corpus of American Civil War Letters, is an online archive of thousands of letters written by soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. Because the soldiers lacked formal education and wrote “by ear,” the...

Pill Meant Bullet

In the Private Voices corpus of American Civil War letters, the term pill is often used to mean bullet, although this slang term is at least a century older. This is part of a complete episode.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury steak is named for Dr. James H. Salisbury, who prescribed what he referred to as “muscle pulp of beef” for Civil War soldiers suffering from so-called camp diarrhea. This is part of a complete episode.

To Hell in a Handbasket

A Huntsville, Alabama, man finds that his younger co-workers have never heard the phrase going to hell in a handbasket. Although the expression is at least as old as the U.S. Civil War, its etymology remains unclear. In the early 1960s, the humorist...

The Origiins of Skedaddle

The origin of skedaddle, meaning to “run away in a panic” or “flee,” has proved elusive. Renowned etymologist Anatoly Liberman suggests it may be related to a Scottish term, skeindaddle, meaning “to spill.” Its...