Thanksgiving and the Civil War

Members of the Independent Guard,

As we all sit down to our Thanksgiving meals with friends and family this year, I wanted to take a few moments to wish you and yours a happy holiday from the staff of the Independent Guard.

Thanksgiving has a big connection to the era we love to reenact. Both presidents, Lincoln and Jeff Davis, issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations during the great war and celebration of the holiday grew as a result.

We all know about the famed Pilgrims who feasted with the local Indians in 1621, but after that the holiday was only observed once in a while. When he was the general commanding the American forces during the Revolution, George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in December of 1777. After the war, in 1789, he did so once again. Then, as President, John Adams also issued proclamations for two of his four years in the highest office of the land. But after that it was more or less a forgotten idea.

It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of a great war, that President Lincoln revived the tradition. The northern president wasn’t the only one to do this during the war, though. President Jefferson Davis had issued his Thanksgiving Day proclamation a year earlier, in 1862. Jefferson’s idea of Thanksgiving was a bit different than the one we think of today. The southern President had declared that the south’s observance would be a day of fasting and reflection, not feasting and revelry.

Of course, the holiday we are familiar with is connected to Lincoln’s proclamation. But, apparently the proclamation was not all Lincoln’s idea. It wasn’t just the war that spurred Lincoln to issue his proclamation, but a letter from a woman named Sarah Hale that convinced him to do so. Hale, the writer of the poem now called “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” had been trying to convince presidents to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation since 1846 and when Lincoln saw her letter he decided to follow her suggestion.

From there our formal national holiday was born.

So, from the staff of the Independent Guard, I want to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Colonel Danny Linkous
Colonel Todd Huston, ret.

November 4, 2014

This is for the Ladies of the Independent Guard Battalion. As you may already know. We are going back to the original I.G. website. At this time, we are bringing the site back up to speed. I’d like to add something different this time. I want to invite you to tell us about your experiences at the events. What you enjoyed or maybe a special moment that took place. You might also write an article about the women during the civil war. You might have a great recipe you’d like to share with the rest of the ladies. If you have pictures you’d like to share. These would be welcomed also. Check out the website and we’re on facebook. If you have something to share. Send it to

Thank you
Col. Danny Linkous