Any war is a very hard time for the families of the
soldiers. Civil War is not a good time for anyone in the country where that war is
taking place. Women and Children suffer badly. The American Civil War or the
War Between the States was no different. Families suffered along with the soldiers
who were out fighting.
The War Between the States was typical for the winning side had the advantages that the
loosing side did not. America was tied together as a Nation because the South relied
upon the North to supply the metal for implements and to gin their cotton. When the
War began, the metal works was one of the embargoes the South suffered with.
This terrible war that had more deaths than Vietnam had a deeper impact than just the loss
of their sovereignty. A woman of Scots descent, Mary Boykin Miller-Chestnut kept a
running diary of the entire Southern side of the War. The tragedies that she
mentions are very horrific. To imagine that our Union actually did this to the
Southern States. Her words state the situation better than any historian can nearly
140 years later.
From Mary Chestnut's Diary:
Mary Boykin Miller was the daughter of Stephen Decatur Miller, she was born 31 Mar 1823.
They were from South Carolina.
Half way through the the War, Mary states, ' The South fought as long as she had any
soldiers left capable of fighting and at last robbing the cradle and the grave. The
South was virtually exhausted..'
"Unlike the South, the North was never reduced to extremities which led the
wives of Cabinet Officers and commanding generals to Gather in Washington hotels and
private drawing rooms, in order to knit heavy socks for soldiers feet that would otherwise
would go bare,"
The Southern ladies would also meet in the same manner to make bandages and shirts for the
"Nor were gentle nurtured women of the North forced to wear coarse ill-fitting shoes,
such as cobblers made."
'Gold would rise in the North to $2.80 an ounce but there came a time when it took
$1000.00 of Confederate dollars to buy a kitchen utensil.'
"In the North the counterpart to these facts were such items as butter at 50 cents a
pound and flour at $12. a barrel. People in the North actually thrived on high
prices. Villages and small towns, as well as
larger cities and their "bloated bondholders" in plenty, while farmers
everywhere in the North were able to clear their lands of mortgages and put money in the
Page 356 and 357, 16 Feb 1865 to 15 Mar 1865 Mrs. Chestnet speaks out on the burning
Sherman and his soldiers are doing from Columbia to Lancaster, everything is gone to the
Feb 29th she states, "Trying to brave it out. They have plenty, yet let our men
freeze and starve in their prisons. Would you be willing to be as wicked as they
are? A thousand times, no! But we must feed our Army first - if we can do so
much as that. Our captives need not starve if Lincoln would consent to exchange
prisoner; but men are nothing to the United States - things to throw away. If they
send our men back they strengthen our army, and so again their policy is to keep everybody
and everything here in order to starve us out. That, too, is what Sherman's
destruction means - to starve us out."
Mary Chestnut's Diary was not printed until 1997. This was 132 years after the War
had ended. Mary died childless and very alone except her journals. The fight of the
Women during the War has been said, "If they weren't of Scottish blood, they
would not have survived."
Women were the care givers, nurses, farmers, Daddies and the strength that kept the
Southern States going. The South used most of their homes for hospitals. In
the end, Mrs. Varina Howell-Davis had a nervous breakdown. Her daughter Winnie took
care of her and the family. Clara Barton from the North had been honored by becoming
known as the Founder of the American Red Cross. The Ladies of the South became known
as the Daughters of the Confederacy.
One Day when Winnie Davis came out of hiding and was walking, the Confederate Soldiers
called her THE daughter of the Confederacy because her father was the President -
Jefferson Davis. That is the beginning of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The United States Government did not allow any funding for the care of the soldiers
and their homes. The property taxes had been raised any where from 500% to 700% therefore
causing many families to loose their homes. The Wives and Daughters had to rebuild
what the War had destroyed.