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A Woman's War Southern Women, Civil War, and die Confederate Legacy Edited by Edward D. C. CampbeUJr. and Kym S. Rice University Press ofVirginia, 1996 264 pp. Paper, $24.95 Reviewed by LeeAnn Whites, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri at Columbia. The women who founded what is now known as the Museum of the Confederacy in 1 896 had a rule that they almost always adhered to: that whüe they would work endlessly to preserve the memory of the Confederate Cause and the men who fought for it, they would aUow no pictures of the Confederate women, and certainly none of themselves, to be hung on the waUs of the museum in commemoration of their own contributions to the war and its remembrance. In their centennial exhibit and accompanying text, A Woman's War: Southern Women, Civil War, andthe Confederate Legacy, the current administration ofthe museum has chosen to break with this aspect of Confederate Memorial Tradition. They put together an exhibit and commissioned historical essays that present the CivU War as a woman's war, and not only as the war of the eUte white women, such as those who founded die museum, but as a war of the common women of the South, both white and black, as weU. This was an ambitious undertaking and, as die director of the museum, Robin Edward Reed, notes in his introduction, a potentiaUy controversial one. The result is a volume ofinsightful essays, which through their varied approaches to the CivU War as a woman's war, do indeed confront controversial issues of race, class, and gender in ways that move the entire field forward. Perhaps the two most padibreaking essays in the volume are those by ThavoHa Glymph and Joan Cashin. Glymph's essay, " 'This Species of Property': Female Slave Contrabands in the War," breaks new ground simply by its insistent focus on the agency of slave women in the war. The essay goes far beyond simply fiUing a vacuum, however. For whUe the eUte white women who founded the Museum ofdie Confederacy viewed slave women's roles in the war as extensions of their own—that is as loyal supporters of Confederate men and the Confederate Cause—Glymph proposes instead that contraband women represented with greatest clarity the agency ofslave women in their own right during the war. This attention to slave women potentiaUy alters the way we understand women's war70 Reviews time experience as a whole. For although the valorous efforts of the eUte Confederate women to stand by their men have dominated the history, from this wider frame of reference perhaps the new centerpiece of "the war as a woman's war" should indeed be die escaped female slave. What would it entaU to make the antithesis of the Confederate woman's experience , the "disloyal" slave woman, the centerpiece ofwomen's experience ofthe war? As Glymph points out, there was no place at the time, or for generations afterward , for this sort ofactive inclusion ofblack women in the history ofthe war. WhUe Confederate women found their "place" as loyal supporters of their men, and African American men found their "place" as loyal supporters ofthe Union cause, African American women found that their efforts to sustain and protect themselves and dieir famUies during the war met with Httie or no support or recognition at the time, or as part ofthe remembrance ofthe war in its aftermath. Given the way that slaveowning women subsumed slave women, and the way that they constructed a remembrance of the war that perpetuated that subsumption, the very act of "remembering" slave women as contraband seems to require that we "disremember," or at least "dismember," slaveholding women. This is precisely the approach to the question that Drew Faust, ThavoHa Glymph, and George Rabie take in their essay, "A Woman's War: Southern Women in the CivU War." Faust, Glymph, and Rabie present the core of slaveowning women's experience in the war as being located in die destruction of slavery, that is, in the dismembering of the slaveholding household that constituted the inverse of the slave woman's escape, independence, and remembering. From this location, the story ofslaveowningwomen...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 70-72
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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