Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Little Mac, Whiskey, and French Royalty: A Play on Words

The other day I purchased an original copy of the New York Illustrated News from September 30, 1861.  I'll have more to say about the edition in a future post, but wanted to share something that I came across when reading through various articles, editorials, and advertisements in the paper.  The blurb brought a little smile to my face.   

In the fall of 1861, a few members of the French nobility-in-exile boarded a steamer for America.  Louis Philippe d'Orleans, the Comte de Paris; his brother Robert, the Duc du Chartres; and their uncle, Francois Ferdinand, the Prince de Joinville arrived in Washington after a stop in New York and toured the Union encampments around the nation's capital.  Gen. George B. McClellan soon offered them positions on his personal staff as aides-de-camp.  The Comte de Paris and Duc du Chartres gladly accepted and were appointed captains in the Regular Army.

Comte de Paris and Duc de Chartres in Union Army uniforms (courtesy of, from Library of Congress)

Under the heading "Bourbon," the Illustrated News ran an item from the New York Times reporting that the Comte de Paris and Duc du Chartres had volunteered their services to the Union army.  The noblemen were from the House of Bourbon, which had ruled France on and off since the sixteenth century.  The paper, with a touch of cheekiness, added:
Some surprise has been expressed at General McClellan for thus allowing Bourbon spirit in the army.  His orders have been very strict against the use of whisky in general.  Sir! the Joinville Bourbon is not "old Bourbon!"
Perhaps the joke may elicit a groan or two from some readers, but I found the play on words amusing, particularly in light of Little Mac's disdain for drinking in the ranks.  This also gives me a good idea for a new whiskey brand.  I mean, after all, we have Burnside Bourbon!

For more information, see this post on the Civil Warriors blog.

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