Civil Hospitality

Some people consider the Washington metro region to be an “inside-the-beltway” bubble. Others experience it as a diverse community with residents and businesspeople from around the world. It’s easy to forget that our community was south of the Mason-Dixon line, a key target in Civil War battles. In Montgomery County, loyalties shifted, sometimes within families. Both Union and Confederate troops moved through the area, and sometimes they asked for local hospitality.

From the Montgomery County Story, Remembrances of Life along Rockville Pike During the Civil War, November 1984

One Sunday, “we found two officers…sitting on the porch, awaiting us and much to our relief, they only wanted their dinner. … We had a good dinner, fried chicken, etc., and we also had company but there was nothing to do but share it with the self-invited guests, and when those hungry men got through there was a shortage of chicken for the “company.” However, they did not suffer for you know our habit of always having cold ham and we wisely checked our hospitality when it reached the frozen custard which was not put on exhibition until the “Yanks” were gone. Perhaps we do not merit the commendation we claim, for our hospitality was somewhat compulsory, it not being wise to antagonize declared enemies backed by the US government.

Claudia Kousoulas