Thursday, March 2, 2023

St. Patrick's Day in Civil War Times

Back in the day, Irish regiments still managed to celebrate St. Patricks day despite being in the Civil War. One of the things they did was hold a grand steeple chase. It didn't matter if the sun shone or it rained, the commissioned officers of each brigade raced their horses in a steeple chase. The purse was five hundred dollars, a tidy sum in the early 1860s. They rode a two and a half mile race that contained 4 hurdles that were 4 1/2 feet high. There were also 5 ditch fences along hotel  two artificial rivers that were 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep. 

Someone from the regiment (usually the quartermaster) travelled to Washington to get everything needed for after the race. It was nothing but food and fun on race day, and more than 2 dozen hams were needed along with a pig they would stuff with turkey, duck, chicken and other game, not to mention a side of ox. Then of course there was the champagne, gallons of rum and whiskey that had to be gathered beforehand and a place prepared where hundred of guests could mingle and make merry.

Games were played such as sack races, a greased pig race, jumping matches, climbing greased poles, and of course the horse race itself. They would have prizes for these games, usually small amounts of money, so there was no shortage of participants. There were also foot races and hurdle races, wheelbarrow races and tossing weights. Poems were read and songs were sung. It was a fun time for all and well received considering what was going on in the nation at the time. Any relief from the war was welcome.

Until next time,


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