February 25, 2024

Honoring Our Confederate Heritage & Virtues

presented by Ultimate Flags LLC

Poker & Pop Culture: The Card Playing of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb

Poker during the civil war was a widely played game. Many soldiers picked up gambling and Union soldiers began picking up habits such as swearing and smoking. Many forms of gambling were popular in the south. The Life of Johnny Reb and Billy Jack explain how life was like during the Civil war.

Key Takeaways:

  • The story of poker in America begins in the south and west, but by April 12, 1861 the game had already found its way both north and east via steamboats, trains, and by other means.
  • As the war turned in the North’s favor, their advantage in numbers and resources would also be realized in their access to playing cards.
  • Ulysses S. Grant enjoyed poker before, during, and after the war, and many of those who served likewise embraced the game.

“The card playing of Civil War soldiers was pursued with the same variety of motives others did before and after — for profit or for fun, as a amusing diversion or with great seriousness”