Monday, November 5, 2012

Ladies Make a Dance Interesting

Holidays were a popular time for having balls. In my collection of dance cards, there are a noticeable number for Thanksgiving balls. These accounts from the history of the 39th Illinois show holiday festivities continuing in spite of the war. Clearly the presence of women at balls is desirable, but the lack of women doesn't stop the men from dancing anyway. It does, however, seem likely that more women would correlate to less drinking, leading to a less foggy morning.

 Thanksgiving Day came, bringing with it a suspension of all but necessary duties, and likewise a considerable number of turkeys and chickens whose age, lineage and previous history were not especially inquired into, having been provided by the genius who watches after the wants of the soldier. Several officers were invited to dinner in town with the officers of the Thirteenth Massachusetts; others dined at the house of Captain Kennedy, of the First Maryland Infantry. In the evening a grand ball was held at the Globe Inn, and largely attended, but did not prove particularly interesting, on account of the scarcity of women for partners. But a "stag"-dance being better than no dance at all, the fun was continued until the small hours of a very fog-y morning in more senses than one. 
(Charles M. Clark,The history of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry, (Yates phalanx.) in the war of the rebellion. 1861-1865, Published under the auspices of the Veteran Association of the Regiment, 1889, p. 26.)

New Year's Day came in bright and beautiful, and the officers of the division celebrated it by taking a gallop through town in force, led by Colonel R-. S. Foster, of the Thirteenth Indiana Volunteers. Later in the day there was prepared a grand dinner, and in the evening a dance, with a sufficient number of ladies to make it interesting(Ibid., p. 98.)

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