In 1864 a gentleman from New York proposed an idea. To feed the troops serving in the war. The idea grew and the committee received $57,000 in money. Poultry and provisions valued at $150,000. The idea spread to other states in the end the 1864 Thanksgiving dinner cost the people around a quarter of a million dollars. The troops prized the attention more than the gift and the support went a long way to encourage the troops spirits.
Below is the initial proposal for the troops.
The Soldiers' Thanksgiving Dinner of November, 1864—a repast which, if not dainty enough for Lucullus, was of dimensions that would have satisfied Gargantua—came about in this wise. The country was in tbe throes of the impending presidential election: never, perhaps, was it more indifferent to turkey and cranberry sauce, nor less anxious about what it should eat and what it should drink. Still, an idea too big, too generous to be kept in one brain, had occurred to an individual in New York, to whom ideas of the sort were no strangers, and, at the risk of confiding it to an unwilling ear, he made it public by addressing certain editors in the following lines:
Gentlemen:—President Lincoln having ordered a general Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, it being on the 24th, I have thought it only proper that something should be done for the army and navy on that occasion, not only to aid them in keeping the day properly, but to show them they are remembered at home. My proposition is to supply the armv and navy in Virginia with poultry and pies, or puddings, all cooked, ready for use. This seems to he a big undertaking, but I do not see any difficulty in carrying it out.
My idea is this: there will be about fifty thousand turkeys—say of eight pounds each, and fifty thousand pies, or their equivalents, required to feed the soldiers and sailors on that day; let, then, every one who can afford it and is willing to send and prepare such articles do so, and make up a barrel or box of them well packed; have them ready for shipment in this city from the IStb to the 20th of November; they can be sent (freight free) to the army and navy of the Potomac so as to be distributed the day before Thanksgiving.
It would be a grand sight to see that army of brave men, loyal to the flag, feeding on the good things of the land they have fought for, whilst the miserable traitors, if they still hold out, are crouched behind their defences hungry and starving.