The Rhetoric of Rebel Women
Civil War Diaries and Confederate Persuasion
Publication Year: 2013
Informed by more than one hundred diaries, this study provides insight into how women cultivated rhetorical agency, challenging traditional gender expectations while also upholding a cultural status quo. Author Kimberly Harrison analyzes the rhetorical choices these women made and valued in wartime and postwar interactions with Union officers and soldiers, slaves and former slaves, local community members, and even their God. In their intimate accounts of everyday war, these diarists discussed rhetorical strategies that could impact their safety, their livelihoods, and those of their families. As they faced Union soldiers in attempts to protect their homes and property, diarists saw their actions as not only having local, immediate impact on their well-being but also as reflecting upon their cause and the character of the southern people as a whole. They instructed themselves through their personal writing, allowing insight into how southern women prepared themselves to speak and act in new and contested contexts.
The Rhetoric of Rebel Women highlights the contributions of privileged white southern women in the development of the Confederate national identity, presenting them not as passive observers but as active participants in the war effort.
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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The Rhetoric of Rebel Women: Civil War Diaries and Confederate Persuasion recognizes elite and middle-class white Southern women’s often overlooked rhetorical responsibilities and activities during the American Civil War. It positions these women as active rhetoricians as they faced new wartime audiences such as Union and Confederate soldiers, ...
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While working on this book, I have met with an enormous amount of kind support and guidance for which I am very grateful. Carol Mattingly first encouraged me to pursue this project and offered invaluable advice on early drafts. Her help and her example as a scholar, teacher, and friend have been essential not only to this project ...
Introduction: Words of Honor—Evidence, Exigence, and Rhetorical Selves
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In an 1861 diary entry, twenty-three-year-old Maryland native and south Louisiana resident Priscilla Bond urged herself, “[B]e a ‘true woman.’ Oh how often those words have rung in my ears! ‘Be a true woman, Mit.’ Those are my mother’s words.” Before the Civil War, Bond had often written of her mother’s patience, meekness, and self-sacrifice, ...
1. Dangerous Words/Domestic Spaces: Invading Union Forces and Southern Women’s Rhetorical Efforts in Self-Protection
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Union soldiers were a primary audience for Southern white women during the war and one that understandably caused them much fear and concern. While the Civil War was described throughout the Confederacy as one fought by Southern white men to protect home and hearth, women who were left alone on the home front were increasingly called upon ...
2. A Ladylike Resistance? Finding the Time, Place, and Means for Voicing Political Allegiances
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In 1862, a Vanity Fair contributor described letters written by Southern white women found among Confederate soldiers’ belongings as violent in content and “almost always wretchedly written, helplessly spelt, and ungrammatical enough.” A subsequent article claimed, “[P]rofanity and blasphemy are considered a mark of loyalty in [Southern] women.” ...
3. Guarded Tongues/Secure Communities: Rhetorical Responsibilities and “Everyday” Audiences
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In June 1864, twenty-year-old Pauline DeCaradeuc turned to her diary after an absence of several days. Despite high wartime prices and shortages of food and other necessities, her family had opened their home near Aiken, South Carolina, to relatives and friends who were refugees. ...
4. Public Voices/Divine Audiences: Confederate Women’s Prayers during the Civil War
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In the popular Civil War poem “The Burial of Latané” and painting of the same name, a Virginia matron presides over the funeral service of William Latané, who fell on a Virginia battlefield in June 1862. While the poem and painting memorialize the death of a Confederate soldier, they also highlight the Southern woman’s rhetorical role. ...
5. Audiences Victorious, Defeated, and Free: Rhetorical Purpose in the Immediate Postwar South
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In April and May 1865, word spread throughout the Confederacy of Richmond’s surrender to Union forces. Despite the Confederate capital’s fall, some Southerners continued to believe that victory still might not elude them. As news circulated of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, however, most loyal Confederates suffered a painful shock ...
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A focus on the rhetorical acts of privileged Southern white women during the American Civil War fills gaps in current rhetorical histories of the nineteenth century. While recently, studies of nineteenth-century women’s rhetorical activities have increased, Southern women, especially those who supported the Confederacy, have been largely absent from this work. ...
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Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms, Further Reading, Back Cover
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms