Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cockades and the Great War

On April 6, 1917 America entered the Great War to End All Wars - now known to history as World War I. Obviously it didn't end all wars, but it did create massive change in culture around the world. As we look back 100 years later, I think the story of how the Great War changed cockades is a symbolic picture of how the Great War changed society in general.

There were many outcomes, good and bad, from the war. But one of the biggest was CHANGE!

Women At Work
A big societal change brought about by the war was the movement of women into industrial jobs. With the mass exodus of men into the military, women were often required to fill in the manufacturing jobs formerly occupied by men.

How did that affect cockades? As a consequence of this alteration in their workplaces, women had less time for sewing "trifles" - including cockades.

Uniforms of Solidarity
Another interesting change brought about during the war years was the huge amount of people wearing uniforms. Not only were there millions of men in uniform, but women joined the military for the first time, thus wearing uniforms too.

For women in the workplace, dresses and skirts got in the way of factory work so it made sense to wear a pants uniform on the shop floor.

Men and women also wore uniforms for home front activities and associations. Uniforms were often created for aid societies as a show of solidarity and patriotism.

Consequently, the wearing of individually styled cockades fell out of use for the military due to uniform regulations, and for civilians as mass-produced buttons, ribbons and membership medals took their place.

New Ideas, New Words
Though war brings destruction and killing, it also often brings bursts of progress. Warfare changed dramatically during World War I and many technological and medical advances occurred too. Ambulances, antiseptics and anesthesia...tanks, flame throwers and aircraft carriers...modern rubber, ultrasound, and plastic surgery - all had their start during the war.

Along with those technological changes came changes in ideas. Communism, socialism and women's suffrage gained traction worldwide. A surge of cynicism over the war's carnage rose, but was also accompanied by a rush of patriotism in all levels of society.

New words were added to cover new situations and norms. Consider phrases we use today that had their origination in World War I - in the trenches, over the top, no man's land, shell shock.

As language reflected the addition of new ideas and the dropping of old, I've found that the very word "cockade" began its gradual disappearance from American publications.

Cockades of the World Wars
You might be concluding from all of this that cockades vanished in World War I - but not to worry! They were still around and still worn by patriotic people.

I have both American and French cockades in my collection dating to the World War years. And I've enjoyed the highly fashionable images I've found from this era of ladies wearing them. Here's a sampling for some "eye candy."

However, as mass production became easier, people also began to wear the forerunners of our modern metal buttons and pins. Some were made in the round shape we now associate with patriotic buttons, but some were still in the shape of cockades! Celluloid, an early form of plastic, was used as well as pasteboard and metal to form these emblems.

In this picture of some cockades in my World War collection, you can see the two ribbon cockades with a celluloid cockade in between them.

The Modern "Cockade" Is Born
Just as the Great War changed the face of culture around the world, so the patriotic cockade was also changed. As industrialization, modernization and mass production brought uniformity to culture, it brought the same to the patriotic emblems we now wear.

Just as today it's unusual to see someone in a hand-sewn outfit, it's also unusual to see them wearing a hand-sewn cockade.

But patriotism still flourishes in America even though our expressions of it have changed. And if you look closely, you'll still see people wearing modern "cockades" - lapel pins, t-shirts and jewelry that show our love of our country.

Need A Great War Cockade?
Using vintage striped ribbon and getting inspiration from my World War originals, I have created a cockade for the modern era. Show your patriotism anywhere - or reenact the Great War - with this red, white and blue emblem of the good ole USA!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Secession Cockades in South Carolina

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States. This was the opening step in a movement that would end with new country formed - and America's bloodiest war. Ripples from that event are seen even today. People who feel marginalized by our system still threaten to go back to the first remedy for bad government that our Founders conceived: Secession.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Secession fervor reached its height in South Carolina during November and December 1860. And naturally, the cockades were seen everywhere! Here's a fun sampling of the descriptions mentioned in the newspapers.

"Black Cockades."
These insignia of Treason are being worn in South Carolina. They are among our early remembrances, and are suggestive of every thing unpatriotic. They were worn by the opponents of Jefferson, Madison, and the Republican Party in 1808-9, as they are in hostility to Lincoln and the Republican Party in 1860. They then preceded and foreshadowed the “Hartford Convention’ of 1814, as they are now precede and foreshadow the Treasonable Gatherings of men who seek to Dissolve the Union.

Ashtabula (OH) Weekly Telegraph, 08 Dec. 1860

Business at Charleston.
The Charleston correspondent of the New York Tribune writes that Jeff. Davis continues to be the favorite candidate for the Presidency of the Southern Provisional Government. Charleston is in the most perfect tranquility; it is really painful to see this beautiful harbor entirely deserted by shipping; the quays destitute of all commercial activity; other indications of gloom seem to daily increase, in the calamities which befall the several traders, the interruptions of the pleasures of the season, and the diminution, I may say cessation, of travel from the North.

The shops which have made the most profit out of the political troubles of the time are those which sell arms, powder and cockades. Of these last articles nearly 25,000 have been sold at prices varying from 25 cents to 50 cents each, and the demand still continues, not only from the South, but for exportation to the Northern States also.

Cleveland (OH) Morning Leader, 28 Jan. 1861

South Carolina.
The cockade is made of three layers of very dark cloth, stitched at the edges and fastened together by a gilt button, on which the following appears in relief: In the center is the "Palmetto," with two arrows (crossed,) and fastened together at the point of crossing with a bow knot of ribbon. The following is the motto around the button: Animous opibusque parati - "Ready with our minds and means."

Glasgow (MO) Weekly Times, 27 Dec. 1860

The Minute Men.
We are glad to see the people of our State everywhere preparing for the crisis which is at hand. As an offset to the "Wide-Awakes" of the North, "Minute Men" are organizing in all the principal districts of South Carolina. Their object is to form an armed body of men, and to join in with our fellow-citizens, now forming in this and our sister States as "Minute Men," whose duty is to arm, equip and drill, and be ready for any emergency that may arise in the present perilous position of the Southern States. In Kershaw, Abbeville and Richland Districts the organization is already complete and powerful, embracing the flower of the youth, and led on bv the most influential citizens. The badge adopted is a blue rosette – two and a half inches in diameter, with a military button in the centre, to be worn upon the side of the hat. Let the important work go bravely on, and let every son of Carolina in prepare to mount the blue cockade. – Charleston Mercury

The Camden (SC) Weekly Journal, 23 Oct. 1860

The scarlet cockade and steel button, of which we spoke yesterday, has, we learn, been unanimously adopted by the Edgefield Riflemen, and is now a pledge by them to resist Black Republican rule in or out of South Carolina. The motto is "Blood and Steel"—a reliable cure for present troubles. We noticed yesterday quite a number of gentlemen wearing a plain blue silk ribbon on the coat lappel. The Palmetto tree, the lone star and the coiled rattlesnake, appear in gold upon the face of the badge….

A new style of cockade has made its appearance in Charleston. It is made of Palmetto leaves plaited with a border of blue ribbon. Also another pattern - a scarlet rosette with steel button in the centre.

The (Baltimore) Daily Exchange, 19 Nov. 1860

The Carolina Cockade.
The cockade most used by the Carolinians, just now, is a little larger than a Spanish dollar, made of light-blue ribbon, with a small brass button in the center, on which is a palmetto tree surrounded with an inscription signifying: "Prepare with our fortunes, and in our minds. We pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Cincinnati (OH) Daily Press, 19 Dec. 1860

Cockades are as plentiful as heads.
They are worn by the old and the young. Across all the streets, and from the doors of nearly all the business houses Palmetto and Lone Star flags are flying. They are to be seen upon the stage coaches, and from the heads of the omnibus horses and full length across the depot horses. It is impossible to turn any way without seeing some indication of the prevailing sentiment. Corps of Minute Men are organized in every neighborhood. The patent leather caps with the ominous "M. M," on the front, are nearly as frequent as the cockade. I give you these things that you may form some idea of the state of feeling in South Carolina.

Nashville (TN) Union and American, 23 Nov. 1860

Sturdy Patriots
The Charleston Mercury has the following:
Sturdy Patriots.—A number of charcoal dealers, from the interior of this district, were yesterday
here on business, wearing—not the blue silk cockade—but plain strips of brown paper, bearing such mottoes as "Resistance," "Remember Harper’s Ferry," etc. We could not but admire the stern simplicity of this unpretending badge of devotion to South Carolina:—

The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king of men for a' that.

Semi-Weekly Mississippian, November 23, 1860

I Have South Carolina Cockades!
All of my South Carolina cockades are based on originals and original descriptions. Not only are these beauties colorful, they are authentic! The wide variety and the fascinating stories behind each South Carolina cockade have made it a fun topic to research.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor & American Cockades

World War II had a dramatic effect on the cockades of the world.

▪ It was the last time Americans would widely wear ribbon patriotic cockades.

▪ It was the first time Americans would widely wear metal patriotic "cockades."

▪ Modern American airplane roundels were created - based on cockades!

An Infamous Date
75 years ago, on December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt addressed Congress and the nation with one of the most remembered of all American speeches.

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

And thus our nation entered one of the greatest conflicts the world has known.

Patriotism in America was already high. Most sympathies were with the European Allied nations fighting the power of Germany's Hitler, Japan's Hirohito, and Italy's Mussolini. So the people of United States willingly settled in for the long fight to preserve freedom in the world.

Fabric to Metal
One example of people's patriotic fervor was the "victory ribbons" they wore to public events. But as time went on, many items became rationed in order to help the war effort. This included textiles, which were devoted mainly to the army's use.

So people began what would become a permanent switch - from ribbon cockades to plastic and metal pins. You can see this example of a celluloid "victory pin" in my collection. It's shaped like a cockade, but made out of early plastic.

French cockades, by the way, underwent the same transformation. This is a picture of a World War II metal cockade with the French slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," written on its pendants.

Cockades In the Air
But the most dramatic new use for cockades was in the air. National emblems, usually based on cockades, were painted on airplane wings and tails as a mark of identification. These were called "roundels."

Actually, the first use of roundels was in World War I. But it was during the second world war that a version of the modern United States roundel was introduced.

Throughout the war, it went through many changes. The early design featured a blue circle, white star and red circle in the middle. Unfortunately, this was rather close to the Japanese roundel of a red circle on a white circle. So the American roundel was changed - quite a few times! Eventually the US government chose the modern design of a white star on a blue ground flanked by white bars. (See the complete history of how it changed and why here.)

Whether the national colors were worn as ribbon cockades, metal or plastic pins, or roundels on airplanes, the people of the United States were proud of their country and willing to fight for freedom. President Roosevelt said it well:

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Buff and Blue... And Cockades

Many of the portraits of our founding fathers show them in Continental Army uniforms of buff (tan) and blue. By the end of the Revolutionary War, these were considered the basic uniform colors for the army. George Washington himself was apparently involved in the choice of those colors - and the choice was not arbitrary.

There's a story behind buff and blue - and yes, it involves cockades!

George Washington's adopted son, George Custis, gives us a hint of this story when he described his father's uniform: "His uniform (Blue and Buff, the antient Whig colours of England) was as plain as hands could make it..."

The Polling, by William Hogarth
Whig Colors
By the time of the Revolutionary War, the Whig party in England was firmly identified with the colors of buff and blue. Their archrivals were the Tory party, whose color was simply blue. 

Up until the middle 1700s, the Whig color was buff alone. An old painting by William Hogarth shows a polling place with a flag of each color, representing each party. The voters wear cockades of their party's color in their hats.

By the time of the Revolution though, the Whigs had added blue to the mix. An old book I found states that blue is the color of fidelity. Buff comes from the color of buffalo leather, and the old term "to stand buff" is based on the sturdiness of that leather. 

So the colors of the Whig cockade said they were faithful, true blue and sturdy citizens!

A Whig caricature in buff and blue,
taking aim at a symbol of the crown
Whig Ideals
Now we know the story of the colors, but that still begs the question: Why did our founders choose Whig colors for their uniforms?

American revolutionaries were, of course, British citizens until the United States declared their independence. And so they identified closely with British politics. The two main British parties of the day were Tories and Whigs. 

A quick look at the principles of the Whigs - particularly the "radical Whigs" - shows us why American patriots chose their colors and their ideals. 

Religious liberty - unlike the rest of the western world at the time, radical Whigs actually were in favor of allowing dissenters from the state religion. Though they were anti-Catholic, their opposition was rooted in the fact that the Catholic church of the day was political and absolutely quashed all religious dissent. 

Constitutionalism - at a time when nearly all nations believed in the divine right of kings to dictate however they wished, radical Whigs instead said that kings must be confined to constitutional limits.

Representation in government - radical Whigs espoused the new idea of Parliament having supremacy over the king. The representatives of the people, they said, should have more power than a single monarch.

A British election celebration in 1755.
Note the buff and blue cockades.
There is much more Whig philosophy that our founders believed, but this gives you a quick taste. Whigs liked the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Algernon Sidney, and Baron Montesquieu. They brought up new theories about things like social contract, natural rights, separation of powers, republic vs monarchy, free trade, religious liberty and the protection of property. 

Those are the ideals on which the American Revolution - indeed, the whole American story - were based.

So it makes sense that our national uniforms would be based on the Whig cockades!

If you want to read in more depth about Whig influence on American thought, here's a good article to start with.

So the next time you see a portrait of an American founder in buff and blue, you'll know what those colors represented!

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Monday, July 4, 2016

240 Years of Independence Cockades

There's been a lot of excitement over "Brexit" the last few days - Great Britain exiting the European Union. Today we get to celebrate a different "exit" - the 240th anniversary of the American Colonies' "exit" from Great Britain!

A quick look at American history - and American cockades - shows that Americans love independence. I've spent five years researching the cockades of the past and I've gotten to know quite a bit about some of these independence cockades and the movements they represented.

Here are a few vignettes of American independence cockades - and a peek at the cockades I recreated!

Alliance for Independence

America became an independent nation when we seceded from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.

Already involved in a war with the mother country, we needed allies. The United States signed the Treaty of Alliance with France on February 6, 1778 and French troops entered the American War for Independence. At first their participation was mostly on the seas but by 1779 they were landing troops on American soil.

The national cockade of France was white. Traditionally, Americans had worn British black cockades. In 1780, as a symbol of the two nations’ alliance, General George Washington established that the American military cockade would be an Alliance Cockade – black with a white center. Many of the French troops likewise wore an Alliance Cockade of white with a black center.

Either way, the cockades said: Independence for the new United States!

Exporting Independence

Just a few years after we gained our independence, our ally France had an independence revolution too.

Shortly after the Bastille fell, the tri-color cockade became the symbol of the French Revolution and later of the Republic. It combined red and blue, the colors of Paris, with the French royal color of white.

James Monroe was America's ambassador to France in the 1790s, when the American patriotic cockade was still black. However, to show his support for the French Revolution, Monroe wore a star-shaped tricolor cockade.

Eventually the tricolor came to America and took the place of the American black cockade.

Now both countries celebrate independence with red, white and blue!

Defending Independence

In 1812, the British decided to see if we really meant it when we seceded. As the old song says, "We fired our guns but the British kept a-comin'...."

American troops of the 1800s were much advanced from the ragtag colonial army that George Washington had to contend with. Uniforms, rank, and pay were far more standardized - and so were the cockades.

An eagle had been added to the original black cockade to "Americanize" the design. Regulations from Secretary of War James McHenry said: "All persons belonging to the army, to wear a black cockade, with a Small white Eagle in the centre. The cockade of non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates, to be of leather, with Eagles of tin."

The 1812 eagle holds both arrows and an olive branch. The message: We're ready for war or peace.

Nullify for Independence

As the fledgling nation grew, so did the factions and tensions between regions. Accusations flew between North, South and West, each insisting the other was taking advantage of the rest of the country.

When the "Tariff of Abominations" was passed in 1828, a movement grew in South Carolina to nullify the law which imposed such harsh regulations on South Carolinians.

In 1832, South Carolina nullified the tariff. Congress promptly passed the Force Bill authorizing the president to send troops. But um, they also passed a compromise tariff. So South Carolina withdrew their nullification of the 1828 tariff. But they nullified the Force Bill - just to make their point clear.

The symbol of nullification in 1828-1833 was a blue cockade inherited from the Gordon Riots in England a few years earlier. It was usually adorned with a South Carolina militia button.

The point was clear and concise: No government tyranny or we fight!

Second War of Independence

An uneasy peace reigned for several decades after the Nullification Crisis, but the tensions were still there. They finally boiled to the surface with the election of President Abraham Lincoln, who didn't even get the majority of the people's vote.

South Carolina was once again the leader and seceded from the Union in December 1860. Two of the first flags associated with the newly independent state were red and white. Thus, red and white came to be known as the colors of the Confederacy.

One source states that the white symbolized truth and purity and the red symbolized sacrifice. Many secession cockades across the South were made from red and white colors.

Though the South eventually lost the war, they made their point: We will sacrifice everything for independence.

Preserving Independence

As the now-united USA proceeded into the 20th century, turmoil churned around the globe. When it finally exploded into the first World War, America was ready with support for nations fighting for their independence.

A second World War pulled us even further into global affairs. Our money, men and munitions poured into the effort to push back tyranny and oppression.

Across the globe, the American red, white and blue symbolized the nation that fights for freedom - for everyone.

American Cockades: Our Heritage of Independence

Americans have a right to feel proud of our heritage. Not only did we fight for our own liberation from tyranny, we have liberated thousands of others around the world.

As we celebrate this 240th Independence Day (hopefully with a cockade!) let's remember our history and uphold the tradition of freedom for future generations!

Click here to see my patriotic cockades!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wide Awakes and Minute Men

Many historians talk about the rush to enlist that occurred when the Civil War started. But not as well known is the fact that a good number of men were already organized in quasi-military groups long before the war broke out. Newspapers of the time recognized two general categories: "Wide Awakes" (Northern sympathizers) and "Minute Men" (Southern sympathizers).

And yes, both groups had badges!

As political hostilities grew during Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign, friction between Northern and Southern sympathizers also grew. The Wide Awakes and Minute Men were ostensibly created to keep the peace, but with tensions running high, they were often embroiled in clashes. And little wonder - does this Wide Awake mission statement sound like the makings of trouble, or what!

Wide Awake Mission
  • To act as a political police. 
  • To do escort duty to all prominent Republican speakers who visit our place to address our citizens. 
  • To attend all public meetings in a body and see that order is kept and that the speaker and meeting is not disturbed. 
  • To attend the polls and see that justice is done to every legal voter. 
  • To conduct themselves in such a manner as to induce all Republicans to join them. 
  • A Wide Awake marcher with his badge. Seen on eBay.
  • To be a body joined together in large numbers to work for the good of the Republican Ticket. 
Of course, the Minute Men's mission doesn't sound exactly peaceful either!

The Minute Men are for the protection of the State as well as to resist any attempt on the part of the Federal Government, to coerce those States which may determine upon secession, as, in their judgment, the proper remedy for a violated Constitution.

A Noisy Crowd

Naturally, friction was inevitable in Baltimore, that hotbed of conflicting political views. But the Wide Awakes were there to "keep the peace." Here's an account of one event:

Baltimore. Nov. 2. –The procession of the Wide Awakes last night, encountering great demonstrations of indignation throughout the whole route. The members were greeted with constant hissing and groans, and in some localities rotten eggs were plentifully showered upon them by women. Their transparencies were smashed with stones, but no personal injuries inflicted. They were protected throughout by a strong police force.

At the theatre the galleries were taken possession of by a noisy crowd, who, with groans and hisses, drowned the voices of the speakers. The Hon. E. Joy Morris, of Philadelphia, was cried down amid a scene of excitement. The Wide Awakes made several moves to clear the galleries, and finally the police forced all to leave except those wearing the Wide Awake badges. The meeting, however, was effectually broken up. Three-fourths of the Lincoln men were Germans. After the meeting, the remains of the procession were escorted by the police to their headquarters.

Preparing for the Crisis

While the Wide Awakes were "keeping the peace" up North, the opposition Minute Men were organizing and arming themselves too. This newspaper notes:

The Minute Men. - We are glad to see the people of our State everywhere preparing for the crisis which is at hand. As an offset to the “Wide-Awakes” of the North, “Minute Men” are organizing in all the principal districts of South Carolina. Their object is to form an armed body of men, and to join in with our fellow-citizens, now forming in this and our sister Stales as “Minute Men,” whose duty is to arm, equip and drill, and be ready for any emergency that may arise in the present perilous position of the Southern States. In Kershaw, Abbeville and Richland Districts the organization is already complete and powerful, embracing the flower of the youth, and led on by the most influential citizens. The badge adopted is a blue rosette, two and a half inches in diammeter, with a military button in the centre, to be worn upon the side of the hat. Let the important work go bravely on, and let every son of Carolina in prepare to mount the blue cockade. -Charleston Mercury.

Crimson Ribbons and Blue Badges

Not all political events involved violence. This account of a Wide Awake event from the Massachusetts Berkshire County Eagle sounds not only peaceful, but fun.

Speaking of the illumination, the Berkshire Courier says: the finest display of this kind, was at the Maplewood Institute, which was one complete blaze of light. The words “LINCOLN & HAMLIN,” were prominently displayed in bold letters, and even at the peak of the tower of Gymnasium hall, the initials of our ever worthy successful candidates could be plainly observed.

The Wide Awakes were here greeted by cheers, waving of handkerchiefs, and the smiling faces who had lent largely to the features of the occasion; the “wide awake” Republican young ladies being easily distinguished by a crimson ribbon, with the words “LINCOLN & HAMLIN” inscribed thereon, while the other parties wore blue badges.

Drilling Daily

Many chapters of the Wide Awakes and Minute Men ended up enlisting en masse into the regular armies when the war started. Their military drilling and organization had already been in place for months.

This South Carolina newspaper noted in November 1860:

A gentleman who arrived here [Washington D.C.] from the South to-day, states that Minute Men and Committees of Safety are organizing all over the South. In Virginia they are enrolling men all over the State, and the regular volunteers drill daily. The four batteries of rifled cannon, twenty pieces, lately ordered by Col. Smith, will arrive in Richmond next week, with five thousand revolving pistols, and 25 hundred carbines. Eight hundred barrels of powder have already gone on. There is no exaggeration in all this. Governor Letcher declares openly that its object is to sustain any sovereign State against federal coercion. Letters from Georgia say all parties are united for secession on Lincoln's election. No doubt is entertained here that in less than sixty days several of the Southern States will have dissolved their connection with the government.

The Civil War did not occur in a vacuum. As the badges and rallies multiplied during 1860, the Wide Awakes and Minute Men became well-prepared powder kegs ready to be touched off. Both sides felt their convictions deeply. As tensions rose, each side vowed to defend the right - even to the death.

Wide Awake Rallying Song:

Wide awake! wide awake!
This is no time for sleep!
Let every friend of Freedom now,
His wary vigils keep.
The foe is on his march again,
His council fire aglow;
Then rally now, my gallant boys.
To battle with the foe.

The Boys With the Blue Cockade

No stranger or insolent foeman shall tread
O'er the graves where the dust of our heroes is laid.
Our mothers and daughters - our living and dead
We'll trust to the Boys with the Blue Cockade.

If you need Union badges or Secession cockades, I have them in my shops! Or feel free to email me with a custom order - no extra charge.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Southern Lady's Poem

These days, it's popular to say Southerners, and Southern ladies in particular, were backward and uneducated. History proves otherwise.

Southern ladies ran the businesses, churches and farms in the absence of their men who were fighting a war. Southern ladies homeschooled many of their sons and daughters in their early years, and sometimes all the way through high school. And Southern ladies turned out some amazing literature.

Today I thought it would be inspiring to look at a Southern lady who wrote a once-famous poem called "The Blue Cockade."

The Literary School Girl
Mary Walsingham Crean was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mary was blessed with early success as a writer, something that doesn't always happen to young authors. One source states, "Her career as a writer commenced as a school-girl, and opened with a series of lively, dashing, and piquant articles, prose and verse, communicated to the "Sunday Delta" when under the control of the gifted Joseph Brenan. Much interest prevailed for a time over the gay and graceful incognita, and the gifted authoress continued for several years a frequent contributor to the same paper, winning a local popularity seldom attained at the first steps of a literary career."

The Civil War interrupted her regular writing career, so she switched to more martial themes and kept on writing. Her sense of humor and patriotism blended to create some uplifting poetry.

One poem laments teasingly about the absence of gentlemen escorts for the ladies:

On Sunday, when we go to church,
We look in vain for some
To meet us, smiling, on the porch
And ask to see us home.
And then, we can't enjoy a walk
Since all the beaux have gone,
For what's the good, (to use plain talk,)
If we must trudge alone?

"The Letter" by Haynes King
The Attractive Authoress
Mary took up her regular writing career again after the war. Apparently, her family came upon hard times and her pen was needed to bring in more income. What began as a fun hobby turned into a much-needed job.

Of both English and Irish descent, Mary combined a well-rounded literary background with a sense of humor. Her poems and sketches throughout her life were informative, entertaining and heart-warming. Mary's critique of Oscar Wilde's lecture tour of America in 1881 is still in many libraries today. A number of sources mention that she was working on a novel about life in old New Orleans - I haven't been able to find out if she ever completed it. Mary's work earned her a place in "The Living Female Writers of the South" (a fascinating book!), published in 1872.

I've not yet discovered any photos of Mary, but this is a description I found. "In person, Mary Walsingham is tall and slender, with a form of graceful symmetry, of fair complexion, blue or gray eyes, and brown hair. Her manners are peculiarly attractive, and strongly represent the mingled brilliancy and softness, wit, passion, gayety, tenderness, and general versatility which mark her writings."

Here's the poem that led me to discover this wonderful Southern lady.

The Blue Cockade

God be with the laddie, who wears the blue cockade!
He's gone to fight the battles of our darling Southern land;
He was true to old Columbia, till more sacred ties forbade -
Till 'twere treason to obey her, when he took his sword in hand;
And God be with the laddie, who was true in heart and hand,
To the voice of old Columbia, till she wronged his native land!

He buckled on his knapsack - his musket on his breast -
And donned the plumed bonnet - sword and pistol by his side;
Then his weeping mother kissed him, and his aged father bless'd,
And he pinned the floating ribbon to his gallant plume of pride.
And God be with the ribbon, and the floating plume of pride!
They have gone where duty called them, and may glory them betide!

He would not soil his honor, and he would not strike a blow,
For he loved the aged Union, and he breath'd no taunting word;
He would dare Columbia, till she swore herself his foe -
Forged the chains for freemen - when he buckled on his sword.
And God be with the freeman, when he buckled on his sword!
He lives or dies for duty, and he yields no inch of sward.

The foes they come with thunder, and with blood and fire arrayed,
And they swear that we shall own them - they the masters, we the slaves;
But there's many a gallant laddie, who wears a blue cockade,
Will show them what it is to dare the blood of Southern braves!
And God be with the banner of those gallant Southern braves!
They may nobly die as freemen - they can never live as slaves!