Sunday, April 1, 2012

Civil War Sunday - All Fools Day

Welcome, new readers, to my blog.  I have a simple format:

Sundays I post on something related to the United States Civil War (also known as the War Between the States, and some other names) which took place between April of 1861 and April of 1865.  I am a native of New York City, and currently live in upstate NY, but my posts can range wherever this war was fought - and you might be surprised where some of those places were.  I am not a historian or a Civil War reenactor but just someone who is interested in history and the sometimes untold "rest of the story".

Wednesdays I blog about "spring things" which will change with the seasons.  Last year I did this as a Wildflower Wednesday, but I wanted to give myself a little more leeway if something interesting came up.

The rest of the week, I blog about anything I feel like blogging about. 

And now, onto today's post.

Play any Aprils Fools jokes today?  Seems like you find these online (i.e the 2012 gags including the BBC North Norfolk "Holtism" Cult , Google Maps 80's style (here, of the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield) and. Google Racing )  but as for us playing these jokes on each other in the non-virtual world, it doesn't seem to be as common as it was when I was growing up.  I remember a lot of good jokes, including the April Fools issues of TV Guide in the back of the real TV Guide magazine (anyone else remember those?) or the all time best April Fools prank ever, IMHO - the BBC Spaghetti Trees documentary - and yes, I was alive in 1957.  How times have changed!

During the Civil War, though, April Fools jokes were a lot more common.  Some of these can be found online, including:

A New York Times editorial dated April 2, 1861, about what was then called All Fools Day....

The cover and text of a Harpers Weekly article from March 30, 1861 (OK, the fighting part of the Civil War was just getting starting and the war hadn't officially been declared yet, but still....) talking about "All Fools Day"...

A New York Times modern article detailing the various pranks played during the Civil War era - some would seem a bit harsh nowadays.  If I got a prank call from a friend early on April 1 asking me to bail them out of jail, I would roll over and go back to sleep....

And here is a Thomas Nast illustration of April Fools jokes from 1864.

But not everything that happened on April 1 in the Civil War era was a prank.  This correspondence between President Abraham Lincoln and others starting April 1, 1861, ended with the shelling of Ft. Sumter and the start of the Civil War hostilities less than two weeks later.    And, another article dealing with other events of April 1, 1861 is quite serious, too.  Finally, there was the battle of Five Forks, in Virginia, April 1, 1865.

But, just to show that Civil War buffs can have fun on April 1, this from the modern "Civil War Talk"site - an "early" joke- note how all the avatars are upside down.

Do you have a favorite Aprils Fool prank, virtual or otherwise?


  1. It may amuse you to run the name of the man being interviewed in the BBC Radio Norfolk Holtism piece - "Peter Histgate" - through an anagram generator online...

  2. I did. "Spaghetti Tree". How cool! Thank you for bringing this to my attention.


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