By 1861, “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” had been in print almost 40 years. And early in 1861, the United States had begun its most devastating conflict. Unsurprisingly, at least five periodicals—northern and southern—reprinted the poem which had been a feature of the winter holidays as long as many readers had been alive. While the Richmond Whig (southern) complained about a straitened celebration, the Hartford Daily Courant (northern) noted that no war lasts forever and then moved on to some religious sentiment which isn’t actually a feature of the poem.
“Christmas” (from the Hartford Daily Courant [Hartford, Connecticut] 25 December 1861; p. 2.)

The following, from the pen of Prof. Moore, has been in print a long time; but it wears well, and we think some of our young readers may like to see it. The troubles of war are transient; but the great fact on which Christianity is based, is as fixed as the everlasting hills.

’Twas the night before Christmas, when, all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney, with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced through their heads;

And mamma with her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,

And [sic] just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,—

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang up from bed to see what was the matter:

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now, Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Donder and Blixen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now, dash away, dash away, dash away, all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys—and St. Nicholas too;

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,—

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot:

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot!

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back;

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump; a right jolly old elf;

And I laughed, when I saw him,—in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know that I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle;

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle;

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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