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Southern Women in the Civil War An Online Professional Development Seminar Laura Edwards National Humanities Center Fellow Professor of History Duke University.

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Presentation on theme: "Southern Women in the Civil War An Online Professional Development Seminar Laura Edwards National Humanities Center Fellow Professor of History Duke University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Southern Women in the Civil War An Online Professional Development Seminar Laura Edwards National Humanities Center Fellow Professor of History Duke University

2 SOUTHERN WOMEN Elite slaveholding women White Unionist women White working class women Enslaved women

3 Part I How did women Southern shape the course and outcome of the Civil War? Support Subversion Pressure Protest

4 Kate Carney’s Journal, 1862 She [Ma] also took some clothes up to Tom Morgan [a prisoner of war], as she understood he was in need of some. She carried Bettie's & my bouquets up to some of the boys. When old Capt. Frost (who by the way comes out quite frequently since Pa’s arrest which was three weeks last Tuesday). He is ever a welcome visitor as he is better than any newspaper and seems so disturbed about Pa. He brought a message from Mr. Crossman (who is a Union man, though we think a very clever one and is staying for protection, which we are very glad to have him do, as he carries letters to Pa, or any thing else, or getting a pass for Ma, to have hauled wood from the Quarter to have sold. It is a mutual accommodation, & satisfies all parties. Bettie & I give him some hard cuts though, about people taking the oath). Discussion Questions According to this passage, what roles do elite women play in occupied Murfreesboro? How do these roles enable them to shape the conduct of the War in Murfreesboro? Elite Slaveholding Women: Support

5 Kate Carney’s Journal, 1862 Cousin Ann & I rode up to see Mrs. Winship this morning, while up town heard good news that a hundred Yankees went out to Readyville & were all either captured, or killed except eleven. We came by the store, they had heard the same story. Aunt Nancy seeing the buggy had to come, & tell us the good news. Every body is rejoicing. Called by to see Belle Boles & her mother, they told us a good deal of news, had a pleasant little visit.... No news in the paper. Bettie & I ran over a few minutes to see Mrs. Maney to hear the news. She said a letter had been received in Nashville saying we had gained three grand victories in Va. & for us not to believe anything that Yankees had to say, for it was impossible for us to hear any good news from our army through them. Discussion Questions According to these passages, what roles do elite women play in occupied Murfreesboro? How do these roles enable them to shape the conduct of the War in Murfreesboro? Elite Slaveholding Women: Support

6 Kate Carney’s Journal Ma & Cousin Ann... went up to the College to see our prisoners, and to their astonishment found that one had taken the oath and gone home. Just to think he was one of Morgan's men too. I felt so badly about it, but heard his wife was at the point of death, & like it was that, that forced him to take it. The Yankees no doubt will publish that not less than a dozen took the oath in place of Mr. Handley. Oh! I hope the other poor fellow will not [do] such a thing. I felt so wretched when I have placed confidence in any one, & it is betrayed by taking that awful oath. Bettie & I went to see Finie Burton, but she was not at home, talked a while to her mother. She spoke of trying to get a pass to go out, but old Rounds said he had charged the pickets to let no one out, but to permit the country people to come & go. We think it is a Yankee trick, to get them in to take the oath Discussion Questions How does this passage illuminate the propaganda war that was going on for hearts and minds in Murfreesboro? Elite Slaveholding Women: Support

7 Kate Carney’s Journal This afternoon we were lying down, when we saw Ma come tipping upstairs with mysterious air which I could not make out. I rushed out on the back porch, (as I was undressed) and saw Ma pass through with a (what proved afterwards a confederate) soldier. She seemed greatly excited. He was one of our soldiers that had escaped jail, just half an hour ago & Ma was trying to disguise him so as to let him escape. He changed his clothes [and] shaved off his whiskers, (Ma giving him some of Pa's clothes) making him look like quite a different man. Ma carried him up something to eat, he would not eat much said he had been to dinner, & would not take any more money, he had plenty. I hope he will get safely back to Starn's Cavalry. He said we had 5,000 men just above here, had had a fight, & we killed 30 or 40 Yankees, & it was that night he was taken prisoner. That was the first time we had heard of the engagement. They always keep a defeat such a secret. This soldier came very near being discovered. There were three Yanks in the front hall who said they had come up to make Ma's acquaintance, as they heard Ma fed their prisoners when Morgan captured them, & when our escaped prisoner asked for the master of the house, the servant asked him in to the front hall, & lo! & behold there sat the man that had captured him a few nights before, and not having any suspicions, they took no notice of him, & he asked Ma for some water and then told his story, so Ma had to play a double game, make herself agreeable to the Yankees whilst getting our soldier off, & I felt vastly relieved when he got off safe. Discussion Questions How does this passage illuminate the propaganda war that was going on in Murfreesboro? How does it illuminate the role that elite women played in the War? What does it suggest about the relations between the occupiers and the occupied? Elite Slaveholding Women: Support

8 Kate Carney’s Journal Mr. Duffer went over to the train with them, & while we were in Mr. Stevenson's parlor he came in dressed as fine as any dandy, & did not look at all like a widower of few weeks standing. He is in for marrying, to judge from his looks, & I must say was not at all favorably impressed. It might have been the conversation he struck up about taking the oath. I said very little, but my remarks were pointed. He had too much Yankee about him for me. When I began to denounce old Capt. Rounds, Mr. Duffer said I must not say a word against him, as he had taken several out riding yesterday (he among the number). I told him I would consider it a great disgrace to be seen with him. I can't bear to see men so willing to knuckle to such low down scoundrels after being insulted & trampled upon as they have been. It seems that the last drop of courage with the men of Rutherford Co. has died out, or else left for parts unknown, or taken up its abode in women kind. Sallie Lytle, Kate & Mattie Avent came out & spent the evening & Rosa returned & spent the night. Capt. Frost was out this evening & brought the paper, no news, only their defeat at Richmond. (the Yankees) How thankful we should be for that victory. Mrs. Wilson thinks if Dr. Black & Mr. L. Black were arrested they would take the oath before leaving their families. If I was a wife, I would say go & die before taking that vile oath. Sister Amanda was telling me about Mary Spence telling Mary Turner to persuade her Pa to take the oath, so that she could ride around & have fun like she did, I guess she wants everybody to put themselves on equality with herself. She was bragging about having a Yankee Officer been & showed a handsome diamond ring she said he gave her. Poor goose, I wish I had never been intimate with her, but I will never be so again. Discussion Questions How does this passage illuminate the propaganda war going on in Murfreesboro? What does it suggest about the role of elite women on the home front? How does class shape Carney’s response to Northern sympathizers? Elite Slaveholding Women: Support

9 General Orders, No. 28 O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XV [S# 21] Union Correspondence, Orders, And Returns Relating To Operations In West Florida, Southern Alabama, Southern Mississippi, And Louisiana From May 12, 1862, To May 14, 1863: And In Texas, New Mexico, And Arizona From September 20, 1862, To May 14, #1 HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, New Orleans, May 15, As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation. By command of Major-General Butler: GEO. C. STRONG, Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff. Discussion Questions What does General Butler’s order say about Southern women’s role in the War? Why would Butler choose this particular response to the resistance of Confederate women?

10 Elizabeth Alvis, Walker County, Alabama, 2337, Southern Claims Commission, Allowed Claims, RG 217, National Archives. Testimony of J.L. Romain: “I heard claimant say frequently that she had two sons in the Union army, and that she wished she had a dozen sons to put in the Union Army.... While I was out in woods to keep away from the rebels, and she knew where I was, she had a signal, which was a white cloth, that she hung out if there was any danger, and if the cloth was not at a certain place I could venture to the house and get something to eat and all the information she had to give me, and she done the same thing with many others. She done all she could to get young men to enlist in the union army. There was two men from the first Ala cavalry came into the county here to enlist some union boys that were in this section of the county. She done all to help them. They had to keep themselves hid in the woods, and she would go and see the union boys and tell them where to go there to enlist." Discussion Questions Compare Alvis’s actions with the actions of the Confederate women described in Kate Carney’s journal. White Unionist Women: Subversion

11 Sarah F. Keeton, Walker County, Alabama, 11,636, Southern Claims Commission, Allowed Claims, RG 217, National Archives. Testimony of P. P. Pile: I know that she aided all men when called upon as far as she was able in getting through to the Union Army. I know she was at various times with and in presence of Union soldiers for several of her neighbors belonged to the Union Army and when at home on scouts she would bear any earand [sic] for them they required her to do, she being a woman would not be molested by the rebel cavalry. If her action had been known to the rebels she could not remained hire [sic] under southern independence. Testimony of George H. McDade: At the time of the war, she lived in a “settlement where there were a great many men laying out to evade the conscript also near several families whose husbands were in the Union Army and I am satisfied that cliament [sic] could with ease [have] made the report to the cavalry and had them all captured immediately. She had all opportunities to have done so, but she was too faithful to the Union cause, and too much opposed to the operations of the rebel to do so, any of the Union boys who belonged to the Union Army [were] in no fear about being interrupted on her account but would call on her for assistance.... ” Discussion Questions Compare Keeton’s actions with the actions of the Confederate women described in Kate Carney’s journal. White Unionist Women: Subversion

12 General Order, Number 2, John Morgan Hunt, Confederate Army, Arlington, Virginia, against deserters HD. QRS. DEPT. W. VA. & EAST TENN., ABINGDON, VA., June 25th, GENERAL ORDER, II. The soldier who will not remain at his post, and who is not obedient to the orders of his superiors, is a worthless encumbrance, and where such men have committed larcenies and outrages upon the private property of citizens--the Brig. Gen. Commanding desires, when it is practicable, to turn them over for proper disposition, to the civil authorities--believing that they can render more service to the country in the workshops of our prisons, than it is possible to derive from them as soldiers in the field--and he calls upon all good citizens to aid and assist him in bringing these malefactors to justice. Whenever the name and command of one of these lawless marauders can be ascertained, and the citizen will forward a statement of the offence committed, with a report of the witnesses, the General Commanding will use every endeavor to have them brought to a speedy trial. Discussion Questions What does Morgan’s say about the morale of Confederate troops? Compare Morgan’s view of insubordinate soldier with those of white Unionist women. How did the actions of white Unionist women contribute to the kind of situation that Morgan describes?

13 Discussion Questions Compare the actions of these African American women to those of white Unionist women and Confederate women such as Kate Carney. How did the actions of these African American women undermine the Confederacy? How did they support the Union? Enslaved Unionist Women: Subversion Former Superintendent of the Poor in the Department of North Carolina to the Chairman of the American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission “The women and children supported themselves with but little aid from the government by washing, ironing. cooking, making pies, cakes &c. for the troops The few women that were employed by the government in the hospitals received 4$ a month, clothes and one ration.”

14 Discussion Questions The Louisiana planter sees this situation as anarchy. How might the slaves describe it? What is the relationship of such actions to the war effort? Enslaved Unionist Women: Subversion Louisiana Planters to the Commander of the Department of the Gulf [Terrebonne Parish, La.] Jany 14th 1862 [1863]– That–many of the negroes led astray by designing persons, believe that the plantations & everything on them belong to them, the negroes– They quit work, go & come when they see fit–Ride off at night the mules that have been at work all day– Fences are pulled down gates & bars are left open– Cattle, & sheep hogs & poultry are killed or carried off & sold– Negroes in numbers from one plantation to an other at all hours night & day–They travel on the rail road– They congregate in large numbers on deserted plantations– All these things are done against the will & in defiance of the orders of their masters.– In Some instances negro Soldiers partially armed have been allowed to visit the plantations from which they inlisted– In a word we are in a State of anarchy.– The time has come when preperations for planting & cultivating the crops of 1863 should be made.– But without teams, & the ability to command the labour of our negroes, nothing can be done.–

15 Nancy Mangum to Gov. Zebulon Vance, April 9, 1863 Mcleanesville NC Aprile 9th 1863 Gov Vance I have threatend for some time to write you a letter-a crowd of we Poor wemen went to Greenesborough yesterday for something to eat as we had not a mouthful meet nor bread in my house what did they do but put us in gail Jim Slone, Linsey Hilleshemer and several others I will not mention-these are the ones that put us to gail in plase of giveing us aney thing to eat and I had to com hom without aneything-I have 6 little children and my husband in the armey and what am I to do.... if you dont take thes yankys a way from greenesborough we wemen will write for our husbans to come... home and help us.... Yours very Respectfuly Nancy Mangum Discussion Questions What does Mancy Mangum and women like her expect of male authority? Compare Nancy Mangum’s expectations to those of Kate Carney. What does this letter suggest about the relationship of class to Confederate patriotism? What implications does this letter hold for the conduct of the War? White Working Class Women: Pressure

16 North Carolina Soldiers of Lee's Army to Governor Zebulon B. Vance, 24 January 1865 Very many of our wives were dependent on our labor for support before the war, and when articles of food and clothing could be obtained easier than now. At this time they are alone, without a protector, and cannot by hard and honest labor, obtain enough money to purchase the necessaries of life. We had hoped that something would be done to render the currency better, but it seems to get worse. Many of us have left our wives and children at home in the country upon little tracts of land, and who are now suffering for want of help to raise bread and meat. It is not in the power of Yankee armies to cause us to wish ourselves at home--we can face them, and can hear their shot and shell without being moved; but, Sir, we cannot hear the cries of our little ones, and stand. We must say something, must make an effort to relieve them, and would do it through you, believing it to be the best way.... But it is not of ourselves that we would complain, it is of our wives and little ones at home, who are necessitous. Do something for them and there will be less desertion, and men will go into battle with heartier good will. But it is impossible for us to bear up under our many troubles, the greatest of which is, the suffering of our wives and little ones at home. We beg your pardon for bothering you with this, but something must be done, speedily. Discussion Questions The letter is written by men, but what does it reveal about white working class women’s patriotism? Compare the situation of these families with that of Kate Carney. What role does class have in Confederate patriotism? What implications does this letter hold for the conduct of the war? White Working Class Women: Pressure

17 Eliza Evans to North Carolina Governor Zebulon.B. Vance, 18 October 1864 “I wish to no of you whether Mr Moore can throw me out of dose or not i hav bin living on his land for the last six years and my husband has paid the rent u to the presant year and if he has the good luck not get killed he sill pay the rent as long as I stay governor I think it is a hard case that my husband is fiting for other folks property and my self and five little children is to be throwed out of dose Governor sir this man Silas Moore has a son just as able boded man as my husband he is left at home to work for his father because he is paralized and he has aplenty to suptt on and because my pore husband had the misfortun not to have land in his absence I am to be thrown out of dose governor sir I hav tried every where in the neighborhood to get a house and there aint any one that I can get or here of and sir I dont no what to do if you sufer him to thow me out unless my husband can get to come home.” Discussion Questions What does this letter it reveal about white working class women’s patriotism? Compare the situation of Eliza Evans with that of Kate Carney. What role does class have in Confederate patriotism? What implications does this letter hold for the conduct of the war? White Working Class Women: Pressure

18 “The Food Question,” The New York Herald, April 11, 1863 On the morning of the 2d inst. a large meeting, composed principally of the wives and daughters of the working classes, was held in the African church, and a committee appointed to wait upon the Governor to request that articles of food should be sold at government rates. After the passage of sundry resolutions the meeting adjourned, and the committee proceeded to wait upon Governor Letcher. The functionary declined to take any steps in the matter, and upon urging the case the ladies were peremptorily ordered to withdraw. The result of the interview was soon made public, when a body of females, numbering about three hundred, collected together and commenced helping themselves to bread, flour, meat, articles of clothing, &c. The entire city was at once thrown into consternation.... The effect of this riot upon the troops about Richmond was very demoralizing. The authorities are much exercised over it, and the greatest vigilance is enjoined upon the police force. The leading men of the city attempted to circulate the report that the women were "Irish and Yankee hags," endeavoring to mislead the public concerning the amount of loyal sentiment in the city, miserably failed. The fact of their destitution and respectability was too palpable, and the authorities are forced to admit the conclusion that starvation alone incited the movement. Discussion Questions What does this passage suggest about the War’s effect on the political consciousness of working class women? What does this passage reveal about the difference between working class white women and elite white women such as Kate Carney? Why might the meeting have been held in an African church? What do the passages suggest about support for the War? White Working Class Women: Protest

19 Part II How did the Civil War affect Southern women? Social upheaval New possibilities

20 The Diary of Gertrude Clanton Thomas Monday, May 29, 1865: “Out of all our old house servants not one remains except Patsy and a little boy Frank. We have one of our servants Uncle Jim to take Daniel’s place as driver and butler and a much more efficient person he proves to be. Nancy has been cooking since Tamah left. On last Wednesday I hired a woman to do the washing. Thursday I expected Nancy to iron but she was sick. In the same way she was sick the week before when there was ironing to do. I said nothing but told Patsey to get breakfast. After it was over I assisted her in wiping the breakfast dishes, a thing I never remember to have done more than once or twice in my life.... Immediately after breakfast as I was writing by the window Turner [her son] directed my attention to Nancy with her two children, Hannah and Jessy, going out of the gate. I told him to enquire, ‘where she was going.’ She had expected to leave with flying colours but was compelled to tell a falsehood for she replied, ‘I will be back directly.’ I knew at once that she was taking ‘french leave’ [leaving without permission or without announcing one’s departure] and was not surprised when I went into her room sometime afterwards to find that all her things had been removed. I was again engaged in housework most of the morning....” Discussion Questions How does this passage illustrate social upheaval? How does this passage illustrate a new relationship between former masters and former slaves? How does this passage suggest new possibilities? Elite Slaveholding Women: Social Upheaval

21 Discussion Questions How does this passage illustrate social upheaval? Sarah Guttery’s testimony on how she supported herself: Question: “Prior to his [her son’s] enlistment and at the time he entered the service how did you gain a living?” Answer: He supported me for four years before he entered the war by his labor. He worked on my father’s farm and he received no pay for his labor only our support. My father was a poor man and was my son was able to work for my living he had him do it.....” Question: “How have you gained a living since Henry went away?” Answer: “Just by hard labor. I have hired out a heap, hoeing, picking cotton, weaving and coloring blue [perhaps bleaching laundry] for people, nursing the sick and spinning.” White Unionist Women: Social Upheaval

22 Discussion Questions How does this passage illustrate social upheaval? How does it illustrate new possibilities? What does this passage tell us about family life among the enslaved? How does it illustrate the role enslaved men and women played in the War? Enslaved Women: New Possibilities Henry Guy, 55th Reg., Co. A, United States Colored Troops, Records of the Pension Bureau, RG 15, National Archives. Hannah Guy, statement, 9 December 1903 [S]he was born in North Carolina, was told that her father's name was Rickson Harris, although she never saw him "from the time I was a little girl"; her maiden name was Ricks; "I lived with Henry as his wife while we both belonged to Lorenzo Bug. I don't know whether you would say we were married. We were permitted by our master to live together. We had 2 or 3 children when we left Lorenzo Guy. No I had never lived with any man before I took up with Henry. Henry had had a slave wife before he had me. Her name was Nancy Pride. She was sold and went to Mississippi, some time before Henry and I commenced to live together. Henry never saw her after he and I commenced living together. When the U.S. Army came through Alabama Henry and I left Mr. Lorenzo Guy and went with the army to Corinth Miss. and Henry enlisted there. I lived in the contraband camp there with the regiment and worked and cooked for the soldiers. After we had been at Corinth 2 or 3 months orders came that everybody had to be married under the new laws, and a whole lot of us, including Henry and I were married by Mr. Peirson. I don't know whether he was a preacher, but I suppose he was. He stood a whole lot of us up in line and married us.... he gave Henry and me a certificate that we were married, and Henry took it with him when he left Corinth with the regiment, and he told me that when he was captured by the rebels he tore it up, and we never got [an]other certificate....

23 Discussion Questions How does this passage illustrate social upheaval? How does it illustrate new possibilities? What does this passage tell us about family life among the enslaved? How does it illustrate the role enslaved men and women played in the War? Taylor Reddick, 33rd Reg., Co. D, United States Colored Troops, Records of the Pension Bureau, RG 15, National Archives. Edith Matilda Reddick, statement, 13 March 1889 [W]as born in Effingham County in the state of Georgia. I lived on a Plantation in said county and my owners received their mail from the post office at Springfield Georgia to the best of my recollection. I left the Plantation and followed the United States Army to Savannah Georgia where I remained three or four months, then went by a U.S. steamer to St. Simon's Island, Gerogia to live with an aunt and there for the first time met Taylor Reddick who was then a soldier in Co. D 22 Regiment United States Troops and married him there. We were married by the Rev. Mr. Eaden who was also a Government official for the issuing of Rations to the People. The Regiment being under marching orders we were married on Sunday morning and left same day at 11 o'clock for Augusta, Georgia. My Husband going with his Regiment and I with him.... I moved with my Husband in the Army from August Georgia to Edgefield So. Carolina thence to Andersonville, thence to Walhalla and thence to Charleston S. Carolina where we remained until he was taken sick and where he died at the Governemnt Hospital. I remained with his Company at Charleston living with and assisting the Company's Cook Mrs. Doc Williams until the Company was mustered out of service on Morris Island. Enslaved Women: New Possibilities

24 USE THE FORUM  To continue the discussion.  To share fresh approaches and discussion questions that work.  To report on the effectiveness of the seminar text in your classes.

25 Thank You


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