Cincinnati sisters Anna and Julia Hider care deeply about facial hair, which is why they wrote a book about it called Badass Civil War Beards. The beardy love affair began after Julia watched a Civil War documentary, noticed all the impressive facial hair, and thought, This could be a blog. Two years and thousands of posts later, the project is on its way to a life in print.
The book comes out November 4, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (and No-Shave November). To make ready, we talked with the pair about all things facial hair: beards, mustaches, puns, and the return of excellent sideburns.
What makes the Civil War special for facial hair?
Anna: We have a couple of theories on this one…
Julia: I’ve read that growing facial hair was a way to display masculinity, which makes sense. Also, the conditions in camp weren’t that great, so maybe they just didn’t have time or it was unsanitary to shave. Our final theory is that their wives weren’t around to tell them they looked stupid.
Whose beard was number one?
Anna: I really like Roswell Ripley, because he had just the biggest mustache you’ve seen in your entire life. It’s almost gross-looking, it’s so big.
The blog is pretty pun-happy. Do you have a favorite beard-related pun?
Anna: I love when people message us and say, “I mustache you a question, but I’m shaving it for later.” People do that all the time, and I always love it.
Julia: It really never gets old.
Facial hair is obviously making a comeback: do you think we’re going to see a rise in the popularity of Civil War-style beards?
Anna: If I have anything to say about it, yes. I want to see more Burnsides sideburns.
Julia: Yeah, we’re already seeing mustaches being waxed, which is great, but I’d also like to see more of the Burnsides.
What modern facial hair deserves recognition?
Anna: Steve Prefontaine’s mustache. Without a doubt.
Julia: A lot of the impressive ones are people who acted in Civil War era movies, like Clark Gable’s mustache in Gone With The Wind.
Anna: Julia says it’s the Little Black Dress of mustaches.
Julia: It is! Everyone looks good in a pencil thin mustache.
Badass Civil War Beards can be purchased and pre-ordered on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Joseph Beth Booksellers.
Julia and Anna Hider will be at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Rookwood at 7 p.m. November 12 to sign books and judge any available beards.