Sunday, March 13, 2016

Civil War Cigarettes

From: examiner.com, 1-8-15

In the Mexican War (1846-1848), cigars were a popular smoke. Others chewed tobacco, used snuff or smoked it in pipes. By 1850, Phillip Morris was offering hand-rolled cigarettes from Turkey in his shop in London. Cigarettes did not become popular in the country until right around 1860. The first cigarettes made in America did not occur until 1865. But imported cigarettes were abundant throughout the war.

Early on the cigarette was considered unmanly to smoke. A New York newspaper in 1854 said the following about the cigarette: “Some of the ladies of this refined and fashion-forming metropolis are aping the silly ways of some pseudo-accomplished foreigners in smoking tobacco through a weaker and more feminine article, which was more delicately denominated cigarette”.

Around 1860, W. T. Blackwell Company sold Bull Durham tobacco in pouches complete with the papers needed for rolling your own. Later the Bull Durham brand became one of the most famous in the world. Within a few years, the federal government instituted a tax on tobacco to help pay for the war. That tax brought in approximately $3 million.

When the Union marched into the South, they grabbed often tobacco when they came across it and hand rolled it into cigarettes.

The Union Navy received cigarette rations. By 1864, Confederate rations included cigarettes though officers of the Confederacy did not get cigarette rations. The Confederate officer’s smoke of choice was the cigar. Later the Union rations also included cigarettes.

Common occurrences during the war were the swapping of Southern tobacco for Northern coffee.

Directly following the war, factories in New York (F. S. Kinney and Sons), in Durham (Washington Duke and Sons) and in Richmond (Allen and Ginter) employed immigrant women who had learned the craft back home. The best women at the trade could roll four to five cigarettes in a minute. It was Washington Duke’s factory that produced the first commercial cigarette.

In the 1880s, Duke’s cigarettes contained booklets showing the history of various Civil War generals including General Logan, General Sherman, General Hooker and General Butler.


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