What’s In a Name?

Between 1860 and 1870 names like Elijah, Ira and Solomon topped the charts as some of the most popular names. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that some of the famous figures from the Civil War have some pretty interesting names by modern standards. Below are just a few of these names along with their meanings.

C.S.A. General Jubal A. Early

Jubal Early – Old Jube was a general for the C.S.A. who served in major battles such as Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. The name Jubal is Hebrew and means “ram’s horn” or “stream”. Apparently in the Bible Jubal was the inventor of the harp and the pipes and is considered the founder of music making.

Union General Ambrose E. Burnside

Ambrose Burnside – this originator of the term ‘sideburns’ had a pretty peculiar first name. He played a major role in the Civil War – at one point becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac. Ambrose is Greek and translates to “immortal”. This seems like a very fitting name for one of the Union army’s most famous generals and the inspiration for a male hair fashion that has rivaled the Rachel.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant – one of the best known Civil War generals also had a pretty crazy name. Ulysses is the Roman version of the name Odysseus who serves as the protagonist in Homer’s epic poem Odyssey. Ulysses is also the protagonist of James Joyce’s famous novel of the same name. Apparently Ulysses means “walker”.

C.S.A. General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard – okay so to be fair the weirdness of this name has less to do with the time period Beauregard is from and a lot more to do with the fact that it’s French. I still had to put it on this list though because it definitely qualifies as one of the more unique (and fun to say) names of Civil War generals. Pierre means “rock” or “stone” and is the French form of the name Peter. Gustave either means “staff of the Gods” or “staff of the Goths”; though similar in spelling, I’d say these two translations mean very different things. And then there’s Toutant which apparently doesn’t have any translation and just serves as a personal name. P.G.T. Beauregard (as he’s more commonly known) served in major battles such as First Bull Run and the Battle of Shiloh.

So there are some examples of the unique and intriguing names of some of the Civil War’s best known figures. If you have any others that I’ve left off, please share them!

This entry was posted in Ambrose E. Burnside, Name Games, P.G.T. Beauregard, Ulysses S. Grant. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What’s In a Name?

  1. Pingback: When the Student Becomes the Master | Butternut and Blue

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