Did You Know?
Some Fast, Fun Trivia about the War
Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables was popular in the Confederate states and was "read to pieces by the soldiers," according to one historical association. But many of them mispronounced the French title, calling it "Lee's Miserables." They dubbed themselves that after Robert E. Lee's fortunes began to fail.
Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had a black pony he named Jeff Davis. The pony was captured during a raid of a plantation owned by the brother of the president of the Confederacy. Grant, who at the time of the raid was possibly bothered by a carbuncle on his bum, appreciated the pony's pleasant stride.
Music apparently knew no boundaries. First published in 1862, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," the Union soldiers' unofficial anthem, is based on a campfire melody popular in the South. And "Dixie," a Southern anthem, was written by a Northerner in 1859 and first performed in a New York City minstrel show.
Soldiers reportedly had a menagerie of mascots: a tame bear, a sheep (who ultimately was sold to a butcher for $5), and even a camel. Perhaps the two most famous were Dog Jack, who has a portrait in the Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum & Memorial in Pittsburgh, and an eagle named Old Abe.
The Union chief of Army aeronautics, Thaddeus Lowe, was a pioneer in early military aerial surveillance, using hot-air balloons to spy on Confederates at Bull Run and at Fredericksburg, Va. He once had to be rescued after landing behind enemy lines. One of his balloons, the Intrepid, was made of 1,200 yards of silk.
The fate of the Union at the first Battle of Bull Run possibly turned foul because of the espionage of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, aka the Rebel Rose. A young, attractive widow, Greenhow-who lived in Washington, D.C., and had many contacts-passed secret messages to Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.