Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Civil War Photo Friday: A $275,000 sack of flour

This is Reuel Colt Gridley, a storekeeper in the Nevada Territory during the Civil War. Although he didn't fight, he decided to do his part by raising money for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, an organization that aided sick and wounded Union soldiers.

He did this in a rather odd way. He had run for mayor of Austin, Nevada, and lost. He and his rival had made a bet that whoever lost would carry a sack of flour through town. Gridley made good his bet, to the accompaniment of the local band and a throng of curious onlookers. Then he offered up the sack for auction, with the proceeds going to the U.S. Sanitary Commission. A generous buyer paid $250 but refused to take it, saying Gridley should auction it again.

And so Gridley did, again and again, traveling from around the territory visiting dusty mining towns and remote ranches and selling the same sack of flour over and over again. By the end of the war he he had raised $275,000 for the boys in blue.


  1. Wow! Even if he didn't add water to it, that's a lot of dough.

  2. Hi Sean .. what an incredible story .. that's great to read about - amazing man and folk around the Nevada territory ... what a lot of $ too .. cheers Hilary


Got something to say? Feel free! No anonymous comments allowed, though. Too many spammers and haters on the Internet.