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War between the States
The Ladies of the War Between the States

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 Southern Soldiers.

"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 bank besides."

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 burnings.

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.

  Return to Civil War Index


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