More bad (and I mean bad) language from olden days.

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 3 18:28:03 UTC 2009

Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas P. Lowry has compiled several ground-breaking books
on the Civil War based on exhaustive studies of Union court-martial records
and other government documents in the National Archives. (Records of
Confederate court-martials were unfortunately destroyed during the fall of

By focusing on the seamy side of the war, Lowry's books, _The Story the
Soldiers Wouldn't Tell_ and _Tarnished Eagles_, prove that humans were every
bit as sick and obnoxious back during the War Between the States as they are
now. They include numerous verbatim exx. of language that nice people like
Julia Ward Howe never used, at least in print.  Lowry's latest book, _Sexual
Misbehavior in the Civil War_, gives even more exx. worthy of
lexicographical notice.  "Victorianism"?  These mid-19th C. speakers never
heard of it.

Lowry scrupulously refers each and every quotation to a specific record in
the National Archives, so Jesse's team of verifiers should be able to
confirm precise dates and details. I note nearly a hundred citations of
lexicographical interest, most of them antedatings of entries in OED and
HDAS by many decades.

The following astonishingly sample, all from _Sexual Misbehavior_, should be
dated to "1861-65" unless otherwise noted.  They reveal a world more like
_From Here to Eternity_ than like _The Red Badge of Courage_. Dr. Lowry
deserves our thanks for helping to set the historical record straight.

P. 132 [1865]: "Let me put my prick in your cock." (Vagina.)

P. 134 [1864-65]: "He put his pecker right into me."

P. 156 [1863-65]: "[He asked her for] "some skin....a pretty question to ask
a married woman."

P. 189: "They...made him jerk himself off, made him come his oats."

P. 193 [1863]: "I am in a bad way in regard to my eyes...jacking off is the
sole cause of my disease."

P. 193 [1864]: "Boys, there are loose women there where you're going ashore.
If the doctor would recommend it, I'd let you go ashore and get your
lanyards greased."

P. 202 [1864]: "He...asked me to dub him off. He meant that I should take
hold of his prick and jerk him off."

P. 213 [1864]: "[He] asked me to let him go up my grummet."

P. 234 [1862]: "[You] fuck ass....[You] good for nothing loafer."

P. 235: "A Goddamned nigger fuck faced son of a bitch."

P. 236: "You make me walk too fast. My bollocks pain me, you fuck with my

P. 237: "[Sergeant, you are] a damned old bugger, a cock sucker, and a
bloody English Orangeman."

P. 237: "[This breakfast is] a damned cock sucking mess."

P. 238 [1862]: "Tell him to shove it. Tell him to kiss my Goddamn royal
star-spangled jolly old arsehold [sic]."

P. 239: "I advise you to have the top of your head taken off, the contents
removed, and have some sensible man shit in it."

P. 242 [1865]: "His flying jib-boom was as stiff as you please/ Which
brought up in the stern of the clipper Louise."

P. 246 [1865, personal letter]: "Oh say, how's your machine and do you ever
get it greased? My pushing pole is all hunky. Boy, I had the best fuck while
in Troy that I ever had in my life. I guess you will get your gudgeon
greased pretty often. Did you say those folks were on it?...I would give
much more to go up Susie's flue this morning....Oh you dirty
would beat your meat for 35 cents."

P. 250 [advertising circular]: "French patent safes, French ticklers, and
French caps."

Perhaps Lowry's most interesting find - though it's hard to pick just one:

P. 233 [1865-66]: "President Johnson, you are a mother fucking son of a

And the Word of the Decade, 1860-70:

P. 63: [A case of] fornycaboogry.


The American Dialect Society -

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