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Now-days # 1 – All Over the Road


Now-days # 1

No doubt we live in the worst of times. That must be true as I hear a wide variety of people saying it over and over. From time to time, I hope to demonstrate just how bad it is now-days compared to when things were good.

Probably, one of the truest indicators of our fallen state is the debauchery all around us – particularly when it comes to issues involving sex. I mean the act, not the gender. If only we could turn back the clock and have our society practice the morality of the past.

Like, say, Washington D.C. during the Civil War.

When the South Carolina troops attacked For Sumter in Charleston, the entire standing army of the United States consisted of less than 17,000 men. After Fort Sumter fell, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers. Soon, the volunteers numbered in the millions. These volunteers had to be trained to be soldiers and much of that happened in the environs of Washington, D.C. and those young men had to be entertained.

Mary Ann Hall's Tomb

Since the 1840’s, Congressmen had only to walk a couple of hundred feet from the capitol building to enjoy the services provided by Madam Mary Ann Hall and her young women. Her establishment sat where the The National Museum of the American Indian sits today. She had plenty of business from our country’s leaders and she did quite well for herself. At her death, it was estimated she was worth what would be a million dollars today. She certainly could afford a nice monument in the cemetery.


The thirteen dollars a month volunteers earned wasn’t near enough to get them into Miss Hall’s place. But, not to worry, additional “bawdy houses,” as they were called, quickly sprouted up to meet the need.

The Union Army's Bawdy House Rankings

In order to provide guidance to the young impetuous men, many of whom were away from home for the first time, the Union army’s provost marshal’s office, now called the Military Police (MP,) did some research and found 83 bawdy houses in the district. The office then provided a list that included each bawdy house’s madam and address, as well as a rating from 1 to low. The original list is difficult to read now, but here is a partial transcription. (Click on it to enlarge.) The “Inmates” column shows the number of women in each house. Under “Class,” we find the provost marshal’s rankings. 1 is best, 2 is fair, 3 is poor. The worst were rated “low.”

I’ve been to the District several times in the last couple years. The rankings are of no help at all because, now-days, the bawdy houses don’t seem to exist.

And, so it goes.

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