A substitute for shoes
An old and experienced citizen has called to our attention, says the Montgomery Advertiser & Register, the subject of the use of cowhide moccasins as a substitute for shoes. He states when he moved to Mississippi, fifty two years ago, no shoes were to be had for negroes, and they made their own out of this material, which answered the purpose as well as the elaborately made article, and in some respects beter. The process is simple: Take green cowhide, or one well soaked, with hair on – which is to go next to the foot – “put the food down firmly” upon it, cut out the pattern desired, make the necessary holes along the edges, and lace it up with a thong of the same material at the heel and up the instep. Let it dry upon the foot, and it accommodates itself perfectly to the shape of the latter, while it is sufficiently substantial for all kinds of traveling, and its elasticity is preserved by use. Socks should be put on when it is made, though it can be worn without…The hair lining gives the advantage of warmth, so that socks, when not to be had, can be better dispensed with when moccasins are used than if shoes were worn. The gentleman to whom we are indebted for this suggestion says he has mentioned the subject to soldiers, how are very much pleased with it, and say there is no reason why soldiers should go barefoot while so many hides are twin away in camps.
Source: Field and Fireside, January 10, 1863, as found in John Hammond Moore, ed., The Confederate Housewife (Columbia, SC: Summerhouse Press, 1997).