Kentucky in the Civil War


Slang Vocabulary

  1. artillery -- cannon and other large weapons
  2. bayonet -- knife-like weapon attached to the front end of a musket or rifle
  3. bedroll -- blankets rolled and carried by soldiers, containing personal belongings
  4. blue coats -- Union soldiers
  5. bummer -- soldier who would take needed items from farmers and townspeople
  6. bushwhackers -- bands of runaway soldiers from both sides of the war who robbed citizens and looted small towns
  7. Camp Nelson -- Union military camp near Nicholasville that became a large refugee center for the families of newly freed African-American Union soldiers
  8. canteen -- tin or wood container on a strap, used to carry liquid
  9. cap -- a small device used to explode powder in a musket barrel
  10. cap box -- a small leather box attached to the belt to hold caps used to fire muskets
  11. cartridge -- paper tube which held a bullet and gunpowder
  12. cartridge box -- box made of leather used to hold cartridges
  13. cavalry -- group of men fighting from horseback
  14. Confederacy -- the group of 11 Southern states that separated themselves from the United States
  15. corps badge -- An army was divided into several units called corps. Each Union soldier wore a badge to show which corps he belonged to.
  16. emancipation -- the act of setting someone free. When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in the Confederate states became legally free.
  17. foraging -- roving the countryside in search of food, which was sometimes taken from farmers
  18. gray coats -- Confederate soldiers. Many soldiers could not afford the military-issued gray uniforms and made their own uniforms using natural dyes. Their uniforms were more of a brownish-yellow or "butternut" color.
  19. guerrillas -- small units of Confederate soldiers who went behind the Union lines and destroyed railroads, supply depots, and county courthouses
  20. hardtack -- a biscuit made of flour, salt, and water that was very hard
  21. haversack -- a small canvas sack used by soldiers to carry their food
  22. Home Guard -- a military police force formed by local citizens to protect themselves during the war. The Home Guard was loyal to the Union.
  23. housewife -- a small sewing kit
  24. infantry -- group of men fighting on foot
  25. jacket -- four-button woolen or cotton coat worn by Civil War soldiers
  26. kepi -- a cap or hat, part of the uniform of the Civil War soldier
  27. knapsack -- a canvas container strapped to a soldier's back, carrying his personal belongings
  28. Missionary Society -- a church-sponsored organization that provided aid at the refugee camps where families of African-American soldiers stayed
  29. neutrality -- Not taking a side on an issue. Kentucky voted to stay neutral during the Civil War.
  30. oath of allegiance -- a promise to be loyal to the United States that captured Confederate soldiers and Confederate sympathizers were forced to take to avoid being put in prison
  31. pickets -- guards who stood on the outskirts of a military camp
  32. plantation -- a large farm on which cotton, tobacco, or sugarcane is grown
  33. Rebels -- Confederate soldiers and sympathizers
  34. rebellion -- when a group refuses to submit to the authority of the larger group and starts a fight
  35. rifled-musket -- a muzzle-loading gun, fired with cartridge and cap
  36. secession -- when a group refuses to be a part of the larger group and instead forms its own group. Right before the Civil War, many Southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America.
  37. Secesh -- Confederate soldiers and sympathizers
  38. shoes -- made of leather; a necessity that was often scarce in the South
  39. slave trade -- the business of buying and selling slaves. Selling slaves to the Southern states was a profitable business for many Kentuckians.
  40. slavery -- the system of one person "owning" another
  41. slouch hat -- wide-brimmed hat, sometimes worn instead of a kepi
  42. suspenders -- strips of cloth or leather used to hold up pants
  43. tin cup -- a cup used to hold water and cook with
  44. Union -- the United States; the Northern states during the American Civil War
(Some vocabulary courtesy of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior)

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