Wednesday, November 14, 2012

'Saloons and fast women' for old Civil War veterans

Orrin Gaylord, a private in the 16th Connecticut during the Civil War, explained
what old soldiers did with their pension money from Uncle Sam in this 1906 letter.
(Connecticut State Library archives)

You never know what surprises will turn up in the Connecticut State Library archives. Last Saturday, I found an entertaining letter from Orrin N. Gaylord to former 16th Connecticut comrade Ira Forbes. A private from Hartford, Gaylord was discharged from the Union army because of disability on March 17, 1863. In the letter dated Aug. 26, 1906, Gaylord wrote that he got married in 1865, had seven children, moved to Ohio from Hartford in 1866, lived for a brief time in the South and worked in the mercantile business before taking a job with an insurance company. And then, out of the blue, Gaylord threw his fellow Civil War veterans under the bus. "We have 6000 soldiers at the home here who for the next week or two after pension day distribute Uncle Sams money between the saloons and fast women pretty freely," he wrote. (Perhaps the old soldiers wasted the rest of that money. ) Wow. Even 106 years ago, they lived the high life off The Man!


  1. Tom Hart5:13 AM

    I guess human nature hasn't changed much. Gaylord's comments sound a lot like many heard during the recent presidential campaign. Apparently Gaylord believed that these soldiers didn't earn the money through their service and that they were the entitled who were squandering Uncle Sam's money. This sounds oh so familiar. . . . Or perhaps he was just trying, ineptly, to put a little humor into his letter.

  2. And there are worse things to spend money on, in my view.

  3. And there are worse things to spend money on, in my view.

  4. Genius comment , tim