Southern Women And The Civil War

1678 WordsDec 3, 20157 Pages
Southern Women and the Civil War: The Burdens of Patriotism and Womanhood in the Confederacy The Civil War altered the lives of women, in both the North and South, just as it altered the nation as a whole. Although it is irrefutable that both the North and the South felt the wrath of the war, the South encountered a unique set of troubles that caused the weight of the war to fall predominantly on Southern women. Attempting to understand the experiences of all Southern women during the Civil War does not come without its challenges. It is impossible to connect the stories and experiences of all Confederate women without generalizing their history. However, by narrowing the analysis to a singular concentration of middle and upper class…show more content…
The second theme consists of the initial expectations Southern women had about the war versus the harsh reality of the war. The third theme, and possibly the most significant, is the opinions Southern women held in regard to the institution of slavery. The touchstone for understanding the wartime experience of Southern women begins with the understanding of the political landscape of the time. Historian Drew Gilpin Faust contends that in the context of nineteenth-century politics, “politics was regarded as a privilege and responsibility of men.” The acknowledgment that women and men existed in their separate spheres is the undoubtedly the most common theme in the arena of Women’s History. In addition to Faust, other prominent historians such as Mary Elizabeth Massey and Lisa Tendrich Frank, have contributed significant scholarship to the topic of Southern women and the Civil War. Massey in particular coined the idea that the war caused Southern women to “leap from their spheres.” While not all Southern women were eager to abandon their traditional spheres of domesticity that existed within their households, women could not resist maneuvering their way into the male sphere of politics. In a diary entry from April 1861, Catherine Edmondston of North Carolina asserted that women’s involvement in politics was unavoidable because the nation was in such great upheaval, “public affairs absorbed all interest.” In an
Open Document