The Battle Of Confederate Women And The Civil War Essay

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n recent years, historians (including this reviewer) have examined the complex reactions of Confederate women to the Civil War with an emphasis on ambivalence, class conflict, and new gender roles. There has also been an emphasis on disaffection from the Confederacy and sometimes from men in general. Much of this scholarship has attempted to revise and even displace the stock contemporary and historical images of Confederate women as fervent and unwavering patriots willing to make any sacrifice for their beloved cause. Perhaps the interpretative pendulum has swung a bit far, and the publication of Ellen Renshaw House 's diary should remind us that the traditional picture of fire-breathing and unreconstructed "secesh females" had some basis in fact. Born in Savannah in 1843, young Ellen Renshaw House moved with her family to Knoxville, Tennessee, shortly before the war. Two of her brothers joined the Confederate army, but the family lived in a part of the state deeply divided between Unionists and rebel sympathizers. The House family owned a few slaves, but researchers looking for new evidence on the disintegration of slavery during the war will not find much information here, because Ellen House seldom mentioned "servants" or slavery. There are a few diary entries beginning in January 1863, but she started recording her experiences regularly in September. This first and longest section covers the family 's experience in Knoxville under Federal occupation. From the opening
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