Civil War Lecture: Spirits on the USS Monitor - Alcohol and the Civil War Navy

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Time & Place

    • The Mariners' Museum and Park

      March 5, 2021, 12 p.m.

      100 Museum Drive
      Newport News, VA 23606
    • Phone: 757-596-2222
      Highway Exit: 258A from I-64
      Website: Click here to visit us online


FREE. Pre-registration is required.




Join us for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein when he presents on how the consumption of alcohol plagued sailors. Viewers are welcome to send Quarstein any comments or questions during the presentation, and he will answer following his talk.


About this presentation: Drinking and fighting always seem to have some type of connection. Grog was first concocted in the 17th century eventually mixing rum, gin, or whiskey with water and lime/lemon. It was a boost to sailors fighting boredom on long sea journeys or giving a surge of instant courage when preparing for battle. Enlisted men could only drink when their grog ration was issued or when they were off duty. Officers, however, drank without care and were only punished when their intoxication became debilitating. Monitor’s paymaster, William Keeler, fought to do away with the grog ration saying drinking was the “curse of the navy.” Many Civil War soldiers and sailors were plagued by whiskey, whiskey, and more whiskey.