Berry Ink And Homemade Paper

Resources of all kinds—food, fuel, clothing, and shoes—were in short supply as the Civil War dragged on, especially in the South. Everyone in the Confederate states experienced shortages, but the hardest hit were the Southern poor. Life was never very easy for many people in the South, but hard times were made much harder by shortages of food, farming help, and basic household items that were previously manufactured in the North and shipped south. Everyday living became challenging for many Southerners, and even simple things like writing a letter took some ingenuity.

The main form of communication between families and soldiers was through letter writing, and it was also a way for many soldiers to pass long hours at camp. Most soldiers begged their families to write back to them right away, and receiving a letter from home was the highlight of most soldiers' day.

Soldiers had to buy their own paper and pens to write letters, and they also had to buy stamps. Later in the war, organizations such as the U.S. Christian Commission and U.S. Sanitary Commission gave out paper and envelopes to soldiers free of charge. In 1864, the U.S. Mail Service announced that Union

Crowd outside the headquarters of the U.S. Christian Commission. Richmond, Virginia.

School House Colonial


confederate mail routes

When the Civil War began, the Confederates created their own postal system and mail routes. Most of the mail during that time was coordinated through Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was transported via steam boats. Mail was also carried over land by stagecoach or a single rider on a horse.


soldiers could send their letters home for free as long as they wrote "soldier's letter" on the outside of the envelope. The Confederates, on the other hand, didn't have that option, and shortages in paper, stamps, and even writing implements became much worse as the war dragged on.

People did not let the chronic shortages of supplies such as ink or writing paper keep them from corresponding with their friends and relatives, however. If they were determined to write a letter, they found resources to help them complete their task. They created ink from the juice of berries. When they ran out of stationery, they used any scraps of paper they could find, from old newspapers to political billets.

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