That Christmas shooting? It's older than you think.
We have quite a merry Christmas in the family; and a compact that no unpleasant word shall be uttered and no scramble for anything. The family were baking cakes and pies until late last night, and to day we shall have full rations. I have found enough celery in the little garden for dinner.
Last night and this morning the boys have been firing Christmas guns incessantly- no doubt pilfering from their fathers cartridge boxes. There is much jollity and some drunkenness in the streets, notwithstanding the enemy's pickets are within an hour's march of the city
- From A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, John Beauchamp Jones, 1866
Robert Mitchell, Mayor, to the Governor
Dec. 25, Richmond
Having a moment of time to spare, I take that opportunity of acknowleging the receipt of your letter enclosing the advice of our Council of State, bearing date the 3rd of last November, and yours of the 19th of same month. It did not come to hand at that date or for many days after. I have done all in my power to prevent that evil of unlawful Gaming within this city pointed out by you; besides it encourages the unguarded youth in Idleness vice and Immorality. You may depend on my doing all in my power to prevent such violation of our laws, and punish them when detected.
Your favor of the 24th Inst. came very late to hand on the evening of that day. Had I rece'd it early in the day I might have had it more in my power to have its contents put in execution more compleat in order to comply with your wish and my own desire. On the 23rd Inst. I wrote Maj'r Wolfe to furnish a Serg't Guard out of the militia, in order to aid our city Patrol to patrol the city and its Jurisdiction during the Christmas Holydays, which has been complyed with, but it does appear to me to be impossible to prevent firing what is called Christmas Guns, being an old established custom, although there is an ordinance of the city police fixing a fine of 5s. for every offence of firing Guns within this city. The addition of the militia to the city patrol may prevent in part the evil pointed out to me in your letter.
I am &c
- From Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts: ... Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Virginia- Volume 9, Henry W. Flournoy, 1890
March 1655-6 6th of Commonwealth
WHEREAS it is much to be doubted, That the comon enemie the Indians, if opportunity serve, would suddenly invade this collony to a totall subversion of the same and whereas the only means for the discovery of their plotts is by allarms, of which no certainty can be had in respect of the frequent shooting of gunns in drinking, whereby they proclaim, and as it were, justifie that beastly vice spending much powder in vaine, that might be reserved against the comon enemie, Be it therefore enacted that what person or persons soever shall, after publication hereof, shoot any gunns at drinkeing (marriages and ffuneralls onely excepted) that such person or persons so offending shall forfeit 100 lb. of tobacco to be levied by distresse in case of refusall and to be disposed of by the militia in amunition towards a magazine for the county where the offence shall be comitted.
- From The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619, William Waller Hening,ed. 1823