The Case for Comrade
By Paul Calloway
In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote a literary classic entitled A Tale of Two Cities. My work is wont for that degree of critical acclaim and is not nearly as ambitious. Nonetheless, this article could easily be entitled A Tale of Two Terms.
Civil War Reenactors of the modern day have at their disposal two distinctly separate words, both of which mean essentially the same thing - a friend, a companion or close associate. One word, pard, has indelibly become part of the Reenactors' vocabulary: the other, comrade, is as distant from modern Civil War Reenacting as video instant replays.
Although I can not provide evidence for when or where pard entered our reenacting lexicon, I believe it is possible to illustrate that the term comrade was in fact a much more prevalent term in the Civil War soldier's vocabularly then its counterpart pard.
The Facts about Pard:
- The Facts about Pard
- On Pardner
- Dictionaries on Pard
- The Facts about Comrade
- Dictionaries on Comrade
- Primary Sources
There are two accepted definitions for the popular term pard. The first is relatively unknown in today's language and that is of a pard being defined as "A leopard or other large cat. ETYMOLOGY: Middle English parde, from Old French, from Latin pardus, from Greek pardos, , probably of Iranian origin Akin to Sogdianpurdhank." The second definition is the familiar pardner (pard) which is "Regional A partner, companion, or friend. ETYMOLOGY: Variant of partner.1
The fact that the term pard, as described in the second definition above, is of relatively recent origin should come as no real surprise to any of us. Many other words common in our nomenclature today have emerged just within recent memory. Americans are almost universally renowned for distinctively "Amercanizing" words into altogether new conjunctions; "... there is what philologists call the habit of clipping or back-formation—a sort of instinctive search, etymologically un-sound, for short roots in long words."2 Common examples of our "word-morphing" might be Xerox, e-mail, fax, anime, emoticon, or even spam. Twenty-five years ago, these words might have only confused your listener, today they are as much a part of our vocabulary as any hundreds of thousands of words that existed decades ago.
The frequent use of the term pard in reenacting has often caused conjecture - if in fact that term was part of the Civil War era lexicon. In order to prove or disprove this notion, it is necessary to study the etymology of the word pard as well as to find dateable documents utilizing this word in a context consistent with how it is used in reenacting today..
The casual observer of this argument is often quick to point out the work of Wilbur F. Hinman, CORPORAL SI KLEGG AND HIS PARD3. The observer argues that the word pard must be valid as it appears in the title of this well known Civil War era book. There is fallacy in this argument however as this book was in fact not published until 1889, placing it no less then twenty-four years after the cessation of the American Civil War. The term may in fact be used in the title, but that makes it no more a part of the Civil War era lexicon than Nike™ or Microsoft™.
The work of William Fletcher was recently brought to my attention as a viable pard quote. The quote has several references to the term pard:
"We dismounted at a fence that enclosed the small opening, and as a shed was near far side, walked in. I was some distance ahead of Pard, and not expecting an attack from any direction; so when nearing the shelter there was a boy stepped from hiding in the path, between Pard and me. He had a small rifle, and I don't suppose he had seen Pard- the first I knew was when Pard said: "Drop that gun"."4Here we have struck gold right? This must be the Holy Grail of pard-quoters everywhere! I eagerly did a verification of this book, chapter and verse, only to find the book wasn't written until 1907. That places this volume in a slightly less credible position then Hinman's work, Corporal Si Klegg and His Pard.
Once more, a careful rereading of this passage might lead one to question whether this is even the correct context for our purpose. For instance, can we be sure that this usage does not actually refer to a person nicknamed Pard? Notice the capitalization and the manner in which it was couched.
" some distance ahead of Pard ...and I don't suppose he had seen Pard".... first I knew was when Pard said..." This manner of usage could suggest a friend with the proper name of Partridge or perhaps Porter which had been shortened to a more convenient word, Pard.
In an effort to resolve the issue of locating pard in period texts, I turned to the Making of America Collection at Cornell University Library. This collection "provides access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints."5 The database is searchable by keyword and allows the researcher to specify date ranges from 1815 to 1926. For the purposes of researching this article, the keyword was entered as pard and the date range of 1815 to 1926 was chosen. The result of this search yielded 110 matches in 82 works. The actual breakdown of the search results was as follows:
The first source, proved to be erroneous as there is in fact no appearance of the word pard in that volume. The next work we turn to is a Journal entitled, Harper's New Monthly Magazine. We find the word pard in the December 1858 to May 1859 issue, page 45. "Immediately after entered a tall man `bearded like a pard.'"6 Reviewing the passage, it is this researchers belief that this usage of the term pard clearly is couched in a manner as to suggest the tall man was bearded like a cat. This phrase, "beared like a cat" appears with great frequency in documents from 1815-1885. This would be entirely consistent with dictionary definitions of the time.
- 1 match in 1 book.
- 109 matches in 81 journal articles.
- 110 matches in 82 works.
Here is a reference from a modern dictionary, it parallels the definitions of dictionaries prior to 1860: Pard (I.), n. [1. Pard; 2. Pad]. O. Fr., fr. Lat. Pardus, fr. Gk. Pardos, `panther'; prob. An eastern loan-word; cp. Scrt. Prdakus, `panther; tiger;. (archaic) Leopard. 7
A thorough review of the remaining matches in over 160 documents, published prior to 1865, in the Cornell collection reveals not a single use of the words pard or pards in any context that other than that of referring to a cat or feline. This collection of journals, books and other works doesn't produce a single use of the word pard in a context that would suggest friendship until at least a decade after the war.
In 1876 , the term in a context suggesting friend or companion appears in the text of a story written for Scribners Monthly in a story entitled Gabriel Conroy. "You see you and me's, so to speak, ole pards, eh?"8 Again in 1877, Scribners published a story entitled Roxy "Now I think we better just keep pards until elections over ..." 9 The use of the term pard or pards seems to become quite common in the mid to late 1870's as it beings to appear with frequency in a large body of American literature during this time period.
Other interesting occurrences of the term pard include a portrait of August Von Rissling "seated in a wooden chair in Leadville, Colorado ... Handwritten in ink on inside of paper cover: August Von Rissling, The best pard that I ever had!, 1879, Leadville, Colorado."10 In 1874, a novel was published under the title The Arkansas Regulators, or, How Ned Studley Won his Wife. Apparently this novel was published in later editions under the title Peddler Paul's Pard.11 In 1878, another example of a novel which was published with the term pard in it's title, The marked moccasin, or, Pandy Ellis' pard, 1878.12
Mark Jaeger of Purdue University Libraries, Special Collections assisted in providing research for this article and has suggested that the "popularization of "pard" [may have] come after the war via the rise of "potboiler" dime Western novels. Mark did an "unscientific "sample" consisting of about 80 Western titles incorporating the word "pard" that popped up during [his] search. Guess what: of that number only 5 pre-dated 1880 with the earliest dated 1874. Fully 95% were dated 1880 onward!"
This seems entirely consistent with Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English which suggests that the term pard as we know it today actually entered the American lexicon circa 1872.13
There are in fact some period references to the term pardner prior to the 1860's. I've not seen it yet in any soldiers letters but it does appear in eight works in the Cornell Collection, prior to 1865.. One example is from the December 1857 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. "... I come to you as a helpmate and a pardner of one of the richest stewards in the vineyard ..." 14 The term appears to gain momentum shortly after the war as it then appears in 61 works of the Cornell Collection between the years of 1865 to 1926. It seems also to be much more widely used on the West Coast then any other area of the United States, a fact attributed to the gold miners so prevalent in the region.
One interesting quotation using this word comes from none other than George Armstrong Custer, who uses the term "pardner" on page 177 of "My Life on the Plains" (1874) while describing a conversation he had with "California Joe" during the time of the Battle of the Washita (1868).
Dictionaries on Pard:
In the 1996 edition of Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (Deluxe Edition) the term is defined as follows:
pard -- n. Informal. partner; companion. [1840-1850, Amer.; by alter. and shortening of PARTNER]. The date of 1850 is also supported by the online dictionary at http://www.yourdictionary.com/cgi-bin/mw.cgi
In another volume entitled Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English...
1. pard, 1850, short for the American pronunciation of partner as "pardner."
2. pard n. _fr middle 1800s cowboys_ Friend; partner=PAL15
Again, the casual observer to the argument might claim victory as here are at least three sources stating that the term came from the time period preceding the Civil War. However, all of those sources are modern dictionaries and may only be approximating a date. Consider these other sources - checking John Bartlett's 1840 and 1860 editions of the Dictionary of Americanisms we find no listing for the word pard at all. In 1877, the Dictionary of Americanisms we find the term pard described as being "...much used in California for partner".16 The 1953 edition of The Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by Eric Partridge we find pard simply defined as "a partner, a chum" but the dictionary goes on to say this term is circa 1872 [in the United States], Anglicized in 1885, and suggests the term pardner as also being [coined] in 1887.17
So we have conflicting information on the term from a variety of well respected sources.
The Facts about Comrade:
The term comrade has been in use for no less then 400 years and classical literature is replete with references to this word:
French essayist, Michel Eyquem, seigneur de Montaigne (1533–1592) is quoted in his book Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity. Saturninus said, “Comrades, you have lost a good captain to make him an ill general.”18
Poet Matthew Prior (1664–1721) in his poem On My Birthday, July 21 "...So all my jolly comrades say... Little, alas! my comrades know... Shall I my comrades' mirth receive..." 19 Once more, comrade, has rather unfairly garnered the reputation of being a "Russian" word. Nothing could be farther from the truth as the most recent use of comrade in any context denoting the Russian use of the word dates to 1884.20
Dictionaries on Comrade:
From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, we find comrade to be considered:
1 a : an intimate friend or associate : COMPANION b : a fellow soldier The American Heritage Dictionary defines comrade in the following manner:
2 [from its use as a form of address by communists] : COMMUNIST
Etymology: Middle French camarade group sleeping in one room, roommate, companion, from Old Spanish camarada, from camara room, from Late Latin camera, camara. Date: 154421.
A comrade can be socially or politically close, a closeness that is found at the etymological heart of the word comrade. In Spanish the Latin word camara, with its Late Latin meaning “chamber, room,” was retained, and the derivative camarada, with the sense “roommates, especially barrack mates,” was formed. Camarada then came to have the general sense “companion.” English borrowed the word from Spanish and French, English comrade being first recorded in the 16th century. The political sense of comrade, now associated with Communism, had its origin in the late-19th-century use of the word as a title by socialists and communists in order to avoid such forms of address as mister. This usage, which originated during the French Revolution, is first recorded in English in 1884. 22Primary Sources from the Civil War:
Well, what did the soldiers say to each other? Let's take a look at some other terms that we have seen in soldier's letters, diaries and post-war accounts.
Leon Louis' diary published as the Diary of a A Tar Heel Confederate Soldier mentions many words that the old soldiers used when referring to one another.23 Louis' probably uses the word comrade more then any other. In 86 pages, Louis uses a form of the word comrade seven times and there is no mention of the word pard. Another Southern Soldier, Randolph McKim, published his diary in 1910 where he uses the term comrade thirty times in 362 pages. Like Louis however, McKim never finds occasion to use the word pard.24 Well then, perhaps a war correspondent from England might make mention of it, having been to both sides of the conflict - eight times, war correspondent, William Russell mentions the term comrade but not once does he mention pard(s) (or pardner) in 624 pages.25
Here are list of terms and references that were seemingly used frequently by the Civil War Soldier:
"...bullets flew thick and close, causing some of the boys to dodge frequently to save their nappers." Tuesday, May 31, 1864 26
"The rebs had left our immediate front and our boys occupied their advance works..." Wednesday, June 15, 1864 27
"After supper, performed the act of cutaneous ablution and were enscounced in clean clothes, being furnished by the boys." Friday, September 23, 1864 28
"...and the boys danced and played ball ... If the boys could have got whiskey ..." Camp Ella Bishop, Lexington, Ky, Dec 25th 1862 29
"... for the boys were geting too awful bad. The country is just loaded with fruit but the boys now dare not take any without paying for it. Sept 1st 1863 Kingston Tenn. 30
" Some boys and I went and got some beef today. " Sunday April 19th /63 Near New Carthage 31
"We have done nothing today of importance a good many of the boys have been downtown." Richmond, June 7, 1861 32
"... visited an old friend in distress and found his bunkmates ministering to his infirmities as well as they could..." Sunday, August 28, 1864 33Chums:
"...the interval between dinner and supper is sometimes spent in visiting old chums..." Tuesday, July 12, 1864 34 Comrade(s):
" Guilty of murdering their comrades for gain and plunder, they were caught, tried and convicted..." Monday, July 11, 1864 35
"Some miserable traitors, who think more of the will of the Confederacy than they do of liberty, their comrades, or their country, inform on them..." Saturday, July 16, 1864 36
"...who has lost all confidence and all patriotism, and for a little favor, will betray his comrades -- such men are numerous." Tuesday, July 19, 1864 37
"Met an old comrade." Friday, July 29, 1864 38
"...but the thoughts of having to bury a comrade so far from home and friends is productive of very unpleasant feelings." Friday, August 12, 1864 39
"... have frequently heard men wish that such a one of their sick comrades would die, so that they could get some wood..." Monday, August 22, 1864 40
"What sad news that so many comrades are numbered with the slain..." Monday, August 29, 1864 41
"...when I see the wounded coming moseying back I feel like going up to take his place in supporting his comrades" Near Tunnell Hill, Ga. May 11th 64 42
"I had a letter dated Aug 2d last evening from my comred..." Near Atlanta Ga, Aug 8 64 43
"Our comrade Ernheart did not fare so well..." Page 3. 3d of June,  44
"Sam Oppenheim, of the 44th North Carolina Regiment, an old comrade of the 1st North Carolina Regiment, came to see me. " August 22 - 45Friend(s):
"Visited my old, three months friend, Buck and a new acquaintance." Wednesday, July 6, 1864 46
"In circulating about among friends, I was forcibly impressed with the scenes of misery" Friday, July 8, 1864 47
"...every man has his friends, and there is a sympathy that binds them together." Tuesday, July 19, 1864 48
"Spent the greater part of the day in visiting old friends in the regiment..." Saturday, September 24, 1864 49 Mess:
"... as we have a Bible in our mess..." Tuesday, July 12, 1864 50
"After breakfast, my mess, minus myself, went to the sanitary commission..." Friday, September 23, 1864 51 "One boy of our mess..." Camp Ella Bishop, Lexington, Ky, Dec 25th 1862 52
"In our mess we have six..." Mt. Sterling, Ky, March 2nd 1864 53 Here's what our old friend, the Making of America Collection at Cornell University Libraries had to say when searching for various terms similar in function to the word pard:
B'hoy - 63 matches in 38 works.
Bub - 175 matches in 134 works.
Chum - 361 matches in 265 works.
Comrade - 1102 matches in 787 works.
Coot - 186 matches in 157 works.
Friend - 54531 matches in 13511 works.
Mudsill - 13 matches in 12 works.
Rascal - 978 matches in 744 works.
Other words to consider:
Jonathan: a downeaster; a yankee
In conclusion, we can be sure that the term pard has been a part of our American lexicon since the middle to late 19th century. There are conflicting reports as to when it appears and thus it is impossible to say definitively whether this is a term used by soldiers during the American Civil War. There is no doubt that the word pardner existed during the war, but we can not assume that soldiers used it, neither can we assume that they used it's derivative pard, primarily because the word has not appeared - at least not to my knowledge in period documents.
The only real evidence that soldiers did or did not use a particular term is in their letters, diaries and postwar accounts. I personally have surveyed hundreds of soldiers letters and a great many diaries and post war accounts - I have yet to run across an occurrence of either pard or pardner in what must be several thousand pages of primary source material. My good friend, Mark Jaeger has also scoured primary documents that number well into the hundreds, and has likewise not witnessed a single occurrence of the words, pard or pardner.
Some might argue that it would be unlikely that soldiers writing letters home would have drafted a word such as pard. I agree on that point, and thus I have attempted to focus much of my research on diaries in addition to letters. Diaries often have a much more conversational tone and many of the slang terms I've noted have in fact come from diaries rather than in letters home.
I believe the historical evidence presented here presents a strong case for limiting the use of the word PARD in our living history conversation until such time as significant new evidence tells us to do otherwise. If the word pard is eventually documented and dated with any frequency to a period prior to or during the war, we must by necessity ask ourselves, "does this evidence provide enough proof that soldiers used this word as often as would be necessary to warrant the degree of use in reenacting today?"
It is almost certain that any fair minded reader of this article will conclude that comrade should be readily embraced and it's counterpart, pard, should be viewed with a degree of suspicion until such time as documented evidence shows otherwise.
See the attached document in the next reply.