Lincoln's Labels: America's Best Known Brands and the Civil War - James M. Schmidt

I'm not a Civil War buff, but I didn't have to be to enjoy this book because, for one thing, this isn't a book about military strategy. Instead, it's about companies and products that made an impact on the Civil War (and vice versa), and it's full of interesting information. For example, before Brooks Brothers started supplying GI uniforms, soldiers used to show up to the field of battle wearing whatever was on hand at the time, which, as you can imagine, made it mighty difficult to distinguish one side from the other and was the cause of "friendly fire" on more than one occasion. One poor group was provided uniforms by the kind ladies back home; the problem is, the ladies, I guess in the name of fashion, decided to sew bring red bands on the front, which was the equivalent of marking the men with a bullseye and sign that proclaimed, "Deposit bullets here."

 

The book is written in such a way that I think people who tend to read mostly fiction would still be able to enjoy it if they gave it a shot, and, in particular, I found the information on Borden's diary products and Squibbs pharmacueticals both engaging as well as enlightening.

I didn't expect to enjoy this so much; in fact, I had actually braced myself for a dry read about a subject I had no particular interest in, so I'm pleased to say that Lincoln's Labels didn't meet my expectations. This is a history book for people who didn't even know they wanted to read about history.

 

Two final thoughts:
(1) I want to know more about James Churchill (that's one bad dude--any relation to Winston? Where does one find more info about this guy?)
(2)The excerpts from Isaac Fisher's heartfelt letter to his wife, Sarah, about the demise of their son, William, and the subsequent retrieval of his body, is one of the saddest and most touching epistles I've ever read.(Where can one read the entire letter?)