The Civil War Connections Blog

Christmas in wartime

Harpers Weekly, 12-26-1863 - Courtesy of HarpWeek

Harpers Weekly, 12-26-1863 – Courtesy of HarpWeek

In the December 26, 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, the following wish appeared.


Ought it not to be a merry Christmas? Even
with all the sorrow that hangs, and will forever
hang, over so many households; even while the
war still rages; even while there are serious ques-
tions yet to be settled—ought it not to be, and is it
not, a merry Christmas?

How well Mr. Nast has seized the spirit of the
great festival in the elaborate and beautiful pic-
ture which we publish this week! The central
scene is the home of the soldier and his Christmas
welcome from wife and darlings, for just that is the
central scene of our American holidays this year.
It is the soldier who has saved us our homes and
filled our holidays with joy. It is the soldier who
is lifting the dark winter-cloud beyond which
smiles the bright spring of national regeneration.
It is the soldier who is securing the peace that will
make the life of the children sleeping together in
the crib, and over whom the dear old bear, Santa
Claus, is bending, a long and happy holiday.

Next year let us hope that the delicate, and
thoughtful, and forcible pencil of our friend Nast
may draw a picture of the National reunion, of the
return of the prodigal who has been living on husks
and with harlots, the rebel soldier returning to his
country and his fellow-citizens, the soldier who did
not know that in fighting the brave man whom we
see in the picture of to-day, he was fighting his true
friend, as well as honor and liberty. Peace on
earth is the Christmas benediction. Blessed then
the brave men upon the Rio Grande, in Louisiana,
along the Mississippi, in the mountains of Chatta-
nooga, in the Valley at Knoxville, upon the Poto-
mac, and the Rappahannock, and the James River;
among the North Carolina barrens and the South
Carolina Islands, with the great army of sailors
upon the rivers and the sea—to all, whether on sea
or land, heroes of the good cause, honor and bless-
ing; for their stout hands and hearts, with the sup-
porting sympathy and faith of the whole people,
are the peacemakers of the nation.

From all of us at the USS Monitor Center, may your holidays be peaceful – and may you have fair winds and following seas in 2014.