Crowdsourcing a Phrase

by Fred Ray on August 10, 2012 · 2 comments

I’ve been transcribing a number of letters from Maj. Eugene Blackford CSA (which is why I haven’t posted much). He has excellent penmanship but occasionally I run into parts of his letters I have trouble with. One of those cases is presented below, which may involve a foreign phrase. Blackford often salts his letters with Latin and French phrases, and this may be the case here.

The paragraph, where he speaks of his ragged condition in the summer of 1864,  reads as follows:

I am proud of it all, tho’, it serves to distinguish the fighting man, the real soldier from the hordes of attaches, quartermasters, commissaries id omne genus who ride about [….], dressed in the best Maryland can afford – fine boots, hats & gauntlets. They are invariably hooted at by the troops,

Here is the actual image. As you can see he uses the Latin phrase id omne genus (actually id genus omne — all of a kind) earlier, so the missing words may be French or Latin, or not.

In any case I am asking TOCWOC reader to take and look and see what they think – distributed intelligence often works better on something like this.



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam August 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

‘Breaking a duck’? I have no idea, but I found this:

Idiom Definitions for ‘Break your duck’
If you break your duck, you do something for the first time.
This idiom is British English
Category: Sport
View examples in Google: Break your duck
Apparently it was a popular saying in the 1850’s according to


Esteban October 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I think it should read “et id omnes genus” which would mean “and everything of the sort”. That would seem to be what he’s implying anyway.


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