Coming of Age during the Civil War
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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THIS BOOK IS THE RESULT of the generous and tireless support of many people and institutions. My work began at the University of Tennessee, where I received a considerable amount of financial assistance from the Department of History, including the Charles O. Jackson Fellowship, made possible by the Jackson Family; the Bernadotte-Schmitt research stipend; and the Lee Verstanding Scholarship. Moreover, the department ...
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IN THE FINAL YEAR OF THE CIVIL WAR, Emma Florence LeConte, age seventeen, looked at her surroundings with a sense of despair. Gone were the carefree days of her childhood. Now the pale riders of war, destruction, and fear consumed her life. Her family was split apart, the men having left to fight or to retrieve other family members from danger. The imminent Union invasion of her hometown of Columbia, South ...
1. "Our Bright Youth"
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IN JUNE 1859, less than two years before the start of the Civil War, Susan Bradford, aged thirteen, was paying little attention to the brewing sectional conflict between the North and South. Bradford, of Pine Hill plantation near Tallahassee, Florida, spent her summer break from school aiding in the preparations for her sister’s wedding. As the daughter of Edward Bradford, former territorial governor of Florida and a prominent ...
2. The Politicized Belle
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IN THE UNION-OCCUPIED CITY OF KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, a federal officer approached nineteen-year-old Ellen Renshaw House about her apparent patriotism for the Confederate cause. He asked if she believed that “reconstructing the Union” would ever be possible. She called the idea “simply ridiculous,” and argued that “southern children hated the Yankee nation from the time they were born, and the hatred ...
3. The Self-Sufficient Daughter
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ON THE EVE OF THE CIVIL WAR, Isabella (“Belle”) and Anna Mason Smith had little notion that the impending conflict would turn their once comfortable world upside down. The two young women were the daughters of the well-known planter William Mason Smith and his wife Eliza Middleton Huger Smith of South Carolina. Belle, born in 1847, and Anna who came along two years later, were the older daughters of the Smith’s six children. As members of a wealthy slaveholding family,...
4. The Perfect Woman
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IN 1862, fourteen-year-old Janet Weaver of Warrenton, Virginia, penned a description of the qualities she believed characterized the ideal woman. “A perfect woman,” she wrote, “must be amiable, kind, and affectionate” and must manifest “all the love of a mother” in raising her children. “When her husband comes home from a hard days work,” Weaver added, “she does not go to meet him with a troubled brow but tries to look cheerful and bright and make him feel that he is always welcome at home.” An ...
5. The Confederate Belle Ideal
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SOME NINETEEN YEARS AFTER the end of the war, Caroline Joachimson, a South Carolina native living in New York City, penned her reminiscence of life behind the Confederate lines. Her story begins with a household of young women sitting quietly at home sewing and knitting items for soldiers while awaiting news of whether their male kin, including Joachimson’s brother, had enlisted in the Confederate army. Suddenly Cecil, her eldest sister, is surprised to see her sweetheart enter the room....
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BY THE EARLY 1900s, southern daughters of the war generation could look to the future with a sense of optimism. Having had children of their own, they saw the torch of southern womanhood passed on to a new generation. Their daughters, born in the postwar era, were now in the throes of adulthood and building their own families. Looking forward, their mothers hoped that a brighter future lay ahead. Those especially affected by the material deprivations of war turned their attention to new forms of financial security and subscribed to the New South boosterism ...
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Publication Year: 2008