The JB Kershaw Chapter UDC was delighted  to have Heather Sheen of Greenville #51 UDC present “Civil War” Cockades at their March 19 meeting.  Heather has probably become a national authority on the subject as she began researching the topic before the Sesquicentennial of the Firing on Ft. Sumter, April, 2011.  In fact, she was contacted by the producers of the recent movie “Les Miserable” and asked if she could provide 3000 cockades for opening night of the movie!  Little did they know that these are hand-made and could not be done in three short weeks.

Chapter ladies found the topic very interesting as well as the items she brought with her, some of which she had made, and others from different time periods in history.   Heather apologized for calling it the “Civil War” as that is not the correct name for this period in history.  But, in order to move along quickly and cover a lot of information, she used this shortened name. Cockades-Photos

According to Heather, a cockade is a knot of ribbons used to “proclaim allegiance to a political faction.”  They were used by both sides during the War Between the States.  At the beginning, they were considered to be a joke, but as the war wore on, the North did not consider them so funny.  Cockades were worn on one’s person, horses, wagons, etc.  They were handmade then as they are today and were popular items sewed by ladies during this time.

The history of the cockade is fascinating and little known to the average person, nor the “Civil War” buff or reenactor.  Briefly, the blue cockade, which is being worn often by history buffs in the South during this Sesquicentennial of the WBTS, actually has a history back to Great Britain and the Gordon Riots of 1780.  It was worn by George Washington’s army during the American Revolution, and for the Nullification Act of 1832 and later Secession in 1860.

The white cockade dates to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.  In America, the white cockade stood for rebellion against tyranny.  The black cockade dates to the American Revolution and the War of 1812 in which soldiers wore them.  Patriotic colors in America then were black and white, rather than our red, white, and blue of today.   Those who were pro-Union during the WBTS wore black while those pro-secession wore black and white, calling this war the Second War for Independence.  Red cockades were the symbol of defiance.    Some Union cockades were tri-color and had their roots in the French Revolution.

The April 16 meeting of JB Kershaw UDC will actually take place in Greenville at the Museum and Library of Confederate History on Boyce Street at 6:30 PM.  Ladies who are interested in Southern and Confederate history and hold to our Judeo-Christian principles are invited to join us for a brief meeting followed by a tour of the museum.  Contact Jennifer Sawyer at 864-980-3607 for further information.

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