How Do Ya Like Dem Apples?

By Jeffrey S. Diehl

Copyright 2002, All Rights Reserved

Most of us have perused soldier’s letters and diaries and other primary historical documents in an effort to improve our impression and to hone our first person skills. Certain details usually catch our attention: of nighttime marches in the rain and being so tired that one tends to fall asleep standing in column at the halt; of being without water and being so thirsty as to drink from a muddy hoof print; of long stints at picket in cold or wet weather without relief; and of almost constantly foraging a hostile countryside for food. In this latter category, there are numerous references to apples.  E.F.Ware, a private in Co.”E,” First Iowa Infantry, wrote, “I had a tough night of it, owing to my chewing so many sour green apples in the orchard while on guard.[1]  Major Fredrick C. Winkler, of the predominantly German 26th Wisconsin, wrote home on June 4th,  1864, and reported:

Our table admits of very little variety, for the last two days we have had nothing but hard tack and coffee; this morning a little bacon, which I broiled according to your directions, was quite eatable. Today we feasted on beef and apple sauce for dessert. There is a large apple orchard in front of our camp; the farm is deserted, and we are permitted to help ourselves.[2]


{mosimage}There are other primary sources that mention apples as well. Philip Pry, whose house served as a hospital and whose property was occupied by more than 8,000 Federal troops (including the headquarters of General George B. McClellan) during and after the battle of Antietam, later filed a claim with the federal government for damages to his property amounting to $2,459, which included remuneration for 150 bushels of apples.[3]


The ancient Romans domesticated apple trees, and the apple diffused throughout Europe on the heels of Roman conquest. Early European settlers brought both the seeds and the trees themselves to the New World. One of the early governors of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endicott, brought the first apple trees to America in1629. It is well documented that in 1647 Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam planted an apple tree from Holland on what would become the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street in New York City, and that tree survived until 1866.  These early varieties of cultivated apples gradually spread westward until by the time of the Civil War, most farmers had an orchard of some kind on their property.


I’m certain that the majority of we re-enactors, in preparing for an event where the quality or quantity of rations is unknown, have put an apple or two in our haversack to insure that we have at least something to eat. We can justify that choice by claiming that we “passed an orchard” or “got it at the farm down the road.” But do we know what kind of apples existed and were common during the Civil War?


The following tables were constructed from information gleaned from several websites.[4]  The first is a list of ancestral types of domesticated apples imported from Europe, the progenitors of all apples that exist today. It includes the original name of the apple variety, the country of origin, and the approximate year that it was domesticated.


Apple Varieties Imported from Europe 



 Variety  Place of Origin  Year
 1.Alexander  Russia  1700’s
 2. Api Etoile  Switzerland  1600’s?
 3. Ashmead’s Kernel  England  1700 5.
 4. Caville Blanc  France  1598
 5. Caville Rouge  France  1670
 6. Cornish Gilliflower  Cornwall, Eng.  1800
 7. Court Pendu Plat  Europe (probably Roman)  1613
 8. D’Arcy Spice  England  1785
 9. Duchess of Oldenburg  Russia  1700
 10. Fearns Avenue Pippin  England  1780
 11. Frauen Rotacher  Switzerland  before 1850
 12. Golden Noble  England  1820
 13. Granny Smith  Australia  before 1850
 14. Gravenstein  Germany or Denmark  1790
 15. Irish Peach  Ireland  1819
 16. Kandil Sinap  Turkey or Russia  early 1800’s
 17. Kerry Irish Pippin  Ireland  1802
 18. Keswick Codlin  England 1790 
 19. Lady  France  1600
 20. Orleans Reinette  France  1776
 21. Pitmaston Pineapple  England  1785
 22. Red Astrachan  England  1816
 23. Reinette Gris du Canada  France  1771
 24. Ribston Pippin  England  1769
 25. Summer Rambo  France  18th Century
 26. White Winter Pearmain  England  1200
 27. Yar Mohammidi  Turkey  1800’s
 28. Yellow Transparent  Russia  before 1800
 29. Zabergau Reinette  France  1700’s
 30. Zuccaimaglio Reinette  France  1700’s


This list could include many more varieties, but hopefully, you get the point. I’ll wager that none of you have seen any of these types for sale in your local market. While these types still exist today, they are considered “specialty” apples, usually available only in limited areas and grown only by those who have an intrinsic interest in apple cultivation.
The second list contains many varieties that originated in North America and were grown during the late Rebellion. This table also lists the variety name, region of origin, and date first produced. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but is meant to serve as a guide.

Apple Varieties Produced in Antebellum U.S. – Second Generation

 Variety Place of Origin  Year
 1. Abram  Virginia  1856
 2. Agnes  Pennsylvania  1845
 3. American Beauty  Massachusetts  1845
 4. American Golden Russet  Massachusetts  1833
 5. Anna  Ohio  1833
 6. Baldwin  Massachusetts  1740
 7. Beach Apple  Arkansas  1849
 8. Belmont  Virginia  1817
 9. Bethel  Vermont  1855
 10. Big Red June  North Carolina  1856
 11. Black Amish  New Jersey  1854
 12. Black Ben Davis  Tennessee  1849
 13. Black Twig  Tennessee  1849
 14. Brewster Twig  Massachusetts  1840
 15. Brogden  Maryland  1845
 16. Brushy Mt. Limbertwig  Kentucky  1845
 17. Calvin  South Carolina  1854
 18. Carter’s Blue  Alabama  1845
 19. Cat Head  Maine  1845
 20. Coos River Beauty  Oregon  1850
 21. Cotton Sweet  Georgia  1845
 22. Daddy  Delaware  1853
 23. Deacon Jones  Rhode Island  1800’s
 24. Democrat  New York  1853
 25. Downing  Illinois  1854
 26. Dr. Mathews  Indiana  1844
 27. Father Abraham  Virginia  1817
 28. Forrest Winter  New York  1845
 29. Grindstone  Michigan  1817
 30. Horse  South Carolina  1830
 31. Jeffries  Pennsylvania  1780
 32. Jonathan  New York  1806
 33. Kent  Michigan  1845
 34. King Soloman  Georgia  1845
 35. Lambert  New Jersey  1804
 36. Liberty  Ohio  1856
 37. Mcintosh  Ontario  1796
 38. Motts Sweet  Ohio  1845
 39. Newell’ s Large Winter  Wisconsin  1854
 40. Northern Spy  New York  1800
 41. Old Virginia Spice  Virginia  1845
 42. Oliver  Arkansas  1832
 43. Paw Paw Sweet  Michigan  1858
 44. Rome Beauty  Ohio  1845
 45. Spencer  Missouri  1852
 46. Striped Rambo  Pennsylvania  1804
 47. Wade  Wisconsin  1856
 48. Waltanno  California  1860
 49. Western Beauty  American  1861
 50. Yellow Permain  South  1845


At least this section has some recognizable varieties in it. I don’t know what is available in your market area, but both Jonathan and Mcintosh are common around here.  Remember, these types were probably available only locally during the Rebellion, (i.e., Cotton Sweet in Georgia), since commercialized apple production was made possible by refrigerated rail cars, which were not perfected until the 1920’s.
This final list is short and sweet. It, like the previous lists, is arranged alphabetically by apple type, place of origin, and year, but contains only varieties that are common now and that were first produced after the Rebellion. An authentically minded reenactor would not use apples on this list at an event.


 Variety  Place of Origin  Year
 1. Braeburn  New Zealand  1952
 2. Cortland  Geneva, N.Y.  1915
 3. Empire  Geneva, N.Y.  1966
 4. Fuji  Japan  1962
 5. Gala  New Zealand  1965
 6. Golden Delicious  West Virginia  1890
 7. Jonagold  Geneva, N.Y.  1953
 8. Red Delicious  American  1900’s


 [1] E.F.Ware, The Lyon Campaign in Missouri. (Topeka:1907), 264
[2] Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, 1864
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