Paris of the Confederacy: Alabama in the Civil War
Mobile was a cosmopolitan city; in 1860 a quarter of its population were foreigners. It was a city beautifully built and adorned with flowers. Though plagued with the shortages inflicted by Civil War battles in Alabama, Mobile was characterized by a spirit of gaiety and was considered the Paris of the Confederacy. It abounded in oyster bars, coffee houses, saloons, beer and wine shops, gambling houses, dance halls, and theater. Thousands of Confederate soldiers and sailors fighting for Alabama in the Civil War, most of whom were young, were garrisoned at Mobile or were sent to one of its twelve hospitals to recover from wounds or illness, or simply passed through on their way to the front lines of Civil War battles in Alabama and elsewhere. As often as they could, these boys enjoyed what Mobile offered -- and many married Mobile girls. One lady wrote that with plenty of girls and so many army and navy men in town, "how could it be otherwise but gay?" Even during the last winter of the war, hardly a night passed without a party.
"...The city begins to grow gay, and I am caught in the current and carried round in the whirlpool. For the last two weeks I have been out every night and sat up until past 12 o'clock and on average I do not believe I have slept much more than five hours out of the twenty-four during that time. I am booked for tonight again and will be probably for tomorrow night. And so it goes."
-Lieutenant Stephen Croom, December 11, 1862, Mobile