Awesomely Bad Facial Hair of the Civil War Era

Posted by Shmoop on 5/29/19 11:03 AM

Facial hair is patriotic. How so? It helped Abraham Lincoln win the election, for starters, and for fifty years after that, every single elected president rode Lincoln’s scruffy coattails...except McKinley. Real trailblazer, that one.

beards of civil war

Awesomely Bad Facial Hair of the Civil War Era

To commemorate the 155th anniversary of the American Civil War, let’s look at some of the best whiskers the era had to offer. Need a refresher on what these hairy faces went through?  


U.S. History 1492-1877: The Civil War

1. The About-Face

Ambrose Burnside(source)

Ambrose E. Burnside was a Union army general famous for his wrap-around facial coiffure.

In fact, he is credited with giving us the term “sideburns,” though “cheekstache” might have been more accurate.

Burnside also appears to have inspired the makeup design for Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot in Return of the Jedi.

2. The Chinny-Chin-Chin


Hannibal Hamlin served as Vice President during Lincoln’s first term.

Is his subtle scruff patch supposed to hide his double chin? Did he miss a spot shaving for picture day? 

These questions may be lost to the ages.

3. The “Little off the Front”


Christopher C. Augur was a commandant at West Point when the Civil War began, but he quickly rose the ranks to become Second Commander of XXII Corps.

Sadly, injuries he sustained in combat forced him to amputate the front half of his beard.  

4. The O Brother, Where Art Thou?

granville arnold(source)

Granville S. Arnold was a private with the 1st California Cavalry of the Union Army.

Although he never attained any rank, you probably recognize his beard from every low-budget production ever.

5. The Great-Great-Great-Grand-Hipster


Nelson A. Miles made a name for himself during the Civil War, earning a Medal of Honor and the rank of major general.

Although the years that followed turned him into a cruel campaigner against Native Americans, his ‘stache continues to be the envy of his progeny hipsters from Brooklyn to the Mission to Silver Lake.

6. The King of the Forest


Edwin D. Morgan was a New York governor, the first ever chairman of the Republican National Committee, and a major general for the Union Army to boot. Not bad for a guy who looks exactly like the Cowardly Lion.

7. The Double Chinbow Across the Sky


Francis P. Blair, Jr. was a Missouri senator, major general for the Union, and the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1868. Distinguished political career or no, this beard may make you break down into tears and question, “what does it mean?”

8. The Neck Bone’s Connected to the…

glenni william(source)

Glenni Scofield served as a judge for the 18th district of Pennsylvania during the Civil War, but you’re probably too distracted by his billowing neck beard to think about that right now.

Never before have a chin and Adam’s apple been more perfectly united. This beard is the reason we need the word “synergy.”

9. The Doctor Zoidberg


Charles Griffin was a Union brigadier general during the Civil War and commanded the Department of Texas during Reconstruction. Experts aren’t sure how he managed to eat and drink through his spiraling, conch-shell mustache, but there’s a good chance it's the reason Starbucks chose a split-tail mermaid for a beverage logo.

10. The Colbert Report


David R. Locke. Swooped hair. A slightly raised eyebrow. That devil-may-care expression.

It’s official: Stephen Colbert has a time machine.

Beards don’t get more patriotic than that.

How did these beautiful beards and their clean shaven comrades impact U.S. History? Here is our post-war video for a quick summary.   

U.S. History 1877-Present: The Outcome of the Civil War

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