Rather slow is the pace
Of a Miller's sack race,
But it causes a rare bit of fun;
For some, if not all
Are so likely to fall
Before many yards have been run.
There's Mungo (the black)
Fix'd tight in his sack,
And has broken his nose on the ground;
While Zachary White,
He holds his up tight,
And jumps lull three feet at a bound.
From Marc's Penny Library 1860
"The sack race is very amusing. The men are tied in sacks to their throats, feet, hands and all, and accomplish their progress by hopping within their limited accommodations, of course the slightest mischance sends them rolling helplessly upon the ground."
From A Woman's First Impressions of Europe 1865
"The sack race caused the greatest amusement of any a large number always entered for it and it took place in a small enclosed plot of grass in the corner of which was pitched a tent where the competitors arrayed themselves and issued out one or two at a time to be arranged in a row at the starting post their appearance was then most grotesque their bodies being enveloped in sacks and their faces covered with masks of the most comical description and their heads nodding most absurdly some even had an additional mask at the back of their head so that when they fell the stewards had great dilficulty in telling which was right side up. Then perhaps the right or left hand man would give a jerk inwards and nearly the whole row would go toppling over. There was always a little excitement also towards the end of the race when would be winners in coming back after having rounded the post came into collision with those still on their way to it and got knocked down rolling helplessly over and losing all chance of success."
From Colburn's United Service Magazine 1865
Mentions of Burlap from 1850-1865:
As a name
Burlapping a car to make it
for wool sacks
"Burlap and like manuf's of which hemp, jute, or sisal grass be the chief material"
The Women's Aid Association of Philadelphia for the Relief of Colored Refugees sent 2 pieces of burlap for bed ticking
this advertisement has burlap oat sacks: