Emma Florence LeConte 18471932

Elite Southerner Emma LeConte, like many of her countrywomen, experienced the Civil War on the home front. LeConte, the daughter of a prominent scientist, kept a brief, but descriptive, journal of her time in Columbia, South Carolina. Her journal, which she began on December 31, 1864, illuminates home front life through August 6, 1865. In her journal, LeConte details shortages, volunteer efforts, attitudes about the Confederacy, and the Union invasion of the state's capital. Throughout the war,...

Home Front and War Front

The connection between home front and war front resulted in part from the geographic location of a war that was frequently fought in the backyards of civilians and in part from the various strains that enlisting 10 percent of the nation caused. Nowhere was this truer than in the Border States and other areas where guerilla warfare was rampant. One woman from the slaveholding and Unionist area around Baltimore recalled that ''between the blue forces and the gray we were ground between two...

Immigrant Units

When the war began, immigrants fought on both sides for many reasons. For some, service as a soldier offered a path to citizenship. Just as military service reflected the responsibilities of citizenship for the native born, it could confer membership in society by demonstrating commitment to shared values. Military salaries provided a second reason to enlist. Not only did soldiers earn a monthly salary, but also bounty payments meant that immigrants who arrived with little or no financial...

Judah P Benjamin 18111884

The first acknowledged Jew in the United States Senate, Judah P. Benjamin served in three cabinet positions attorney general, secretary of war, and secretary of state within the Confederate executive administration and became a confidant of Jefferson Davis during the war. Throughout his early legal career and his political career as a senator from Louisiana and in cabinet posts, Benjamin faced the challenge of being both a Jew and a public figure. Although not religiously observant, Benjamin...

Children and the Civil

Fifteen-year-old Tillie Pierce recorded her memories of life in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the memorable July of 1863. She reported rumors that swept the town for weeks and then wrote ''We were having our regular literary exercises on Friday afternoon, at our Seminary, when the cry reached our ears. Rushing to the door, and standing on the front portico we beheld in the direction of the Theological Seminary, a dark, dense mass, moving toward town'' (Alleman 1889, 21). After great...

Claude Paschal Maistre 18201875

A Catholic priest residing in New Orleans during the war and an exception rather than the rule, Claude Paschal Maistre supported the abolition of slavery and equal rights for blacks, a position that gained him the confidence of free African Creoles and earned him the ire of his bishop. By alienating Southern social convention and his religious superior through his radical political and social positions, Maistre and his African Creole congregants were part of a conflict that meshed religion and...

Uncertain Status

The freed slaves still faced an ambiguous legal status, however. Although not legally emancipated, the contrabands received a wage for their work and enjoyed a relative amount of freedom. In a letter to her sister in June 1861, white Northerner Laura Hildreth described the situation as slaves flocked to Butler's camp Negroes come in every day from outside, and one day as many as forty came into the backyard of all ages from babies up to old men and women. It was a ludicrous and at the same time...

Soldiers Life Is a Hard One at Best Soldiers in the American Civil

In the aftermath of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln asked for 75,000 90-day volunteers to suppress the rebellion. The following month, the Confederate Congress authorized President Jefferson Davis to accept as many volunteers as he felt necessary to repel the Union invasion. In the wake of these calls, young men from both the North and the South, not wanting to miss any of the action, rushed to join the war effort. Ultimately, the combination...

War on Two Fronts Women during the Civil

In July 1861, Virginian Belle Boyd shot and killed a U.S. officer in her home. The young woman claimed self-defense, asserting that the drunken officer had threatened her and her mother. As a white woman, Boyd's actions were quickly excused and she faced no legal consequences for her actions. Taking a cue from her treatment after this event, Boyd began more fully employing her femininity to her advantage. On her own initiative, Boyd, an ardent supporter of the Confederacy, began openly...

References and Further Reading

In the Presence of Mine Enemies War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863. New York W. W. Norton and Company. Bardaglio, Peter. 1992. ''The Children of the Jubilee African American Childhood in Wartime.'' In Divided Houses Gender and the Civil War, edited by Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber, 213-229. New York Oxford University Press. Bardaglio, Peter. 2002. ''On the Border White Children in Maryland.'' In The War Was You and Me Civilians in the American Civil War, edited by...

Eliza Frances Andrews Describes the Destruction Visited upon Georgia by William Tecumseh Shermans Troops 1864

In late 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his 60,000 soldiers through Georgia, as he moved them from Atlanta to Savannah in his famous ''March to the Sea.'' Throughout the march, Union soldiers lived off the land and looted the homes that they encountered. Georgian Eliza Frances Andrews witnessed much of the damage as she traveled between her homes in Washington, Georgia, and Macon, where they went for safety from Union troops. In this diary entry, Andrews described the...

The Draft and Desertion

Some African Americans as well as foreign- and native-born men volunteered, but others entered the ranks through the operation of the Union and Confederate drafts. The outnumbered Confederacy needed every man it could get into its ranks, and consequently, it adopted conscription in April 1862 with the Union following suit in March 1863. Soldiers already in the army endorsed the draft as a means to make service in the war more equitable, but they expressed skepticism regarding the fighting...

Stand Watie 18061871

Stand Watie was born to a prominent and affluent Cherokee family in the village of Oothcaloga in what would later become part of Georgia. His life epitomized how decisions and tensions in the east continued to shape Native American society after removal and decades later during the Civil War. Many of Watie's kin had embraced recent innovations to Cherokee society, and they became active participants in the modern centralized Cherokee government. Brother Elias Boudinot, for example, founded the...

The War and Urban Americans

As the news of the attack on Fort Sumter spread throughout the country, urban Americans quickly accepted war as the answer to the latest expression of sectional crisis. Like their rural counterparts, urban Americans expected a quick resolution and rallied quickly and en masse to the cause. An army of around 15,000 in 1860 swelled to more than 1 million at its peak as suppressing the rebellion became the business of the nation. Rather than enroll volunteers directly in the United States Army,...

Newfound Freedom for Slaves

The tangible loss of provisions and personal property angered Confederate civilians in occupied areas, but the presence of Union troops wreaked havoc in other ways as well. Tensions rose within households and between neighbors. Kate Carney of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, wrote in her diary of the disquiet generated by Yankee occupation. Slaveholders were growing increasingly distrustful of their slaves, she noted, and personal antagonisms were breaking out between former friends. Slaveholders'...

The Coming of the

Although war is frequently understood as being in the domain of men, the social history of the American Civil War demonstrates that the war could not have been waged without the nation's women. From the very outset of the conflict, women became integral to both the Union's and Confederate's ability and willingness to fight the war. Many women helped fill the ranks by encouraging men to enlist, but women were also among the most vocal opponents of mobilization efforts and the war itself,...

Southern Civilians and the Union Army

Civilian Battle Rattle

Before civilians saw the Yankees, they usually heard them coming. The bellow of artillery and the rumble of wagon trains signaled the arrival of Union troops for the residents of invaded areas. Families who lived near the battle front also heard the sounds of maiming and death the movement of ambulances and the cries of the dying, wounded, and sick. Many civilians could not quite believe what they were hearing. John C. Spence Like many families across the war-torn South, this family fled with...

Judaism and the

The Civil War also influenced the experiences of American Jews. A noted foot specialist and British immigrant, Isachar Zacharie settled in Washington, D.C., in 1862. Some of Washington's top federal authorities and politicians sought out Zacharie's medical expertise for treatment, including Abraham Lincoln. In the process of treating Lincoln, Zacharie became a close friend and confidant, and became the trusted recipient of important political and military information from Lincoln and other...

Enlistment and the Military

Sitting Bull Ulysses Grant

From the very beginning of the war, many Native Americans joined the fight in the most formal way. An estimated 20,000 Indians joined the Union and Confederate armies, with more joining the Confederate than the Union Army. Death rates for Native Americans enlistees were similar to non-Indians, with about one-fourth of the enlisted soldiers from some tribes dying from battle wounds. Native American soldiers fought in many of the widely known battles in the east including Second Bull Run, * '<...

An Account of Indian Involvement in the Union War Effort 1862

As the following account of the southeastern Indians of the Indian Territory reveals, Native Americans participated as central actors on many Civil War battlefields, especially in the West. The war divided Native American communities as it provided opportunities for them to settle old scores and pursue new interests. Most Native Americans, though, initially tried to remain isolated from the dispute. From the start of the war, however, the United States and the Confederacy both attempted to...

Ely Samuel Parker 18281895

Born near the Tonawanda Seneca Indian Reservation in New York, Ely Parker (or Doneho-gawa) became one of the most influential Unionist Indians during the Civil War. As a child, Parker attended a Baptist mission school and then continued to receive a non-traditional education at the Yates and Ca-yuga Academies. Although he studied law, his lack of American citizenship prevented him from joining the bar and practicing law. Instead, Parker used his education as a lobbyist for the Tonawanda...

Confederate Woman Held at the Old Capitol Prison Describes Her Imprisonment 1862

Despite antebellum preconceptions about women as meek and uninvolved in military matters, many women became spies for the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. These women took advantage of assumptions about femininity to appear harmless, to hide information and supplies on their bodies, and to coax information out of unsuspecting men. If discovered, these women faced imprisonment and banishment. The Union used the Old Capitol Prison to hold Southern female spies. Those there often wrote...

Mary Greenhow Lee 18191907

Black South African Vandalism

Avidly devoted to the Confederate cause, Mary Greenhow Lee of Winchester, Virginia, vocally opposed Union occupation of the town between 1862 and 1865. Forty-one years old when the war broke out, Lee was the widow of Hugh Holmes Lee, a lawyer who had died in 1856. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Mary Greenhow Lee had adopted Winchester as her home upon her marriage. Located in Virginia's fertile Lower Shenandoah Valley, Winchester became one of the most fought-over towns in all of the...

The US Sanitary Commission

Sanitary Commission USSC formed in the North to coordinate the efforts of local women and aid societies to supply the Union Army. With approximately 7,000 aid societies supporting the Union, the USSC's task was profound. As an umbrella organization, the USSC coordinated millions of dollars of food, medicine, and clothing for Union soldiers, and it provided a structure for the thousands of individual women who volunteered to serve as nurses, knit socks, make uniforms,...

The Womens Pennsylvania Branch of the US Sanitary Commissions Call for Contributions 1863

On June 18, 1861, the United States established the U.S. Sanitary Commission USSC . This organization was created to coordinate the volunteer efforts, mostly of women, throughout the United States on behalf of Union soldiers. The USSC not only guided women's efforts in manufacturing supplies, but it also distributed the gathered materials to the soldiers who needed them the most. Under the auspices of the USSC, Northern women served as nurses, raised money for the soldiers, donated clothing and...

Nativism

The heroism of Irish, German, and other immigrant soldiers drew admiring comment from many Americans. Immigrant contributions on the battlefield assuaged tensions about the role of immigrant peoples in American national identity, but those tensions remained. There had always been Americans who opposed immigration and who felt that immigrants did not belong on American soil. In the 1840s and 1850s, the streets of New York City saw many violent confrontations between criminal gangs. Some of these...

Abolition

The adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in January 1865 forever settled the status of slavery in the United States and ''placed reunification at the forefront of ex-slave families' quest for freedom'' Taylor 2005, 196 . Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave, its implementation reinforced the movement for the destruction of slavery. With the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the provisions of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation could not be overturned by a future...

New York Celebrates the Capture of a Confederate Ship by Robert Smalls 1862

In May 1862, African American slave Robert Smalls, employed by the Confederate Navy as a deckhand on the Planter, sailed the ship out of Confederate hands in Charleston to the safety of a Northern vessel, the Onward. Smalls turned the Planter and its contents, including ammunition and weaponry, over to the Union Navy. The press in the Union hailed Smalls as a hero and a bill passed by Congress and signed President Abraham Lincoln financially rewarded him. Public ceremonies further lauded his...

Rabbi M J Michelbachers Sermon on a Confederate Day of Prayer 1863

Religion played an integral part in the lives of 19th-century Americans. Consequently, in both the North and South, the presidents and other political leaders frequently called for days of prayer and fasting for their respective nations. Clergy of all denominations responded to these calls and shaped their sermons accordingly. In this passage, Rabbi M. J. Michelbacher affirms his Jewish congregation's dedication to their nation and their willingness to fight for it. He further encourages them...

Sarah K Nytroe

On March 4, 1865, following his second inauguration as president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln stood before a crowd of thousands who had gathered near the east side of the Capitol building to watch the ceremony, having braved morning rains and muddy streets to attend. Four years into the conflict that had torn the country apart, and just over a month before the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox Court House, Lincoln used his second inaugural address to reflect upon the...

Female Spies

Throughout the war, female spies aided both the Union and Confederate war efforts. White women frequently relied on their feminine charms to disarm enemy soldiers and officials and convince them that they had no political motives. Allan Pinkerton, who created the U.S. Secret Service, explained that when the war began ''it was not deemed possible that any danger could result from the utterances of non-combatant females . . . That this policy was a mistaken one was soon proved'' Leonard 1999, 21...

Matilda Tillie Pierce Alleman 1848

Tillie Pierce was 13 years old when the Civil War broke out and almost 15 when the fighting came to her home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she was attending classes at the Gettysburg Seminary. During the summer of 1863, local girls shared the local rumors about Rebels headed for their town. With growing fear, Pierce observed people leaving with bundles of belongings and watched as the old men and boys who remained in town practiced their military drill. Fear gave wings to her feet and...

Sojourner Truth [Isabella Baumfree ca 17971883

Isabella Baumfree Images

Sojourner Truth was one of the most highly regarded and recognized African American women in the 19th century. In 1863, Harriet Beecher Stowe noted that she was impressed not only by Truth's tall, slender physical appearance but also by her clear sense of self-worth. An unstinting advocate of the rights of women and African Americans, Truth traveled widely in support of both movements. Truth was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree around 1797 in New York State. Enduring harsh physical...

Media Accounts of Bread Riots in Southern Cities 1863

Wartime shortages and inflation affected everyone in the Confederacy, but they hit poor women especially hard because these women did not have the resources to combat rising prices and scarcity of food. In the spring of 1863, the crisis had reached a tipping point. Hundreds of women in cities across the South, frustrated with their government's perceived inattention to their plight, publicly protested the high price of bread and other necessities. These primarily poor white women voiced their...

About the Editor and Contributors

Frank is associate professor of history at Florida State University. He is the author of Creeks and Southerners Biculturalism on the Early American Frontier University of Nebraska, 2005 and The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South Routledge, 1999 . He is currently writing The Second Conquest Indians, Settlers and Slaves on the Florida Frontier. Lisa Tendrich Frank is an independent scholar who has taught courses in the American Civil War and women's history at universities...

Mary Ashton Rice Livermore 18201905

Mary Ashton Rice was born to wealthy white parents in Boston in 1820 and received the education afforded to women of her class. In the early 1840s she spent three years as a tutor to children in Virginia. Her life on a slave plantation during this period opened her eyes to the horrors of slavery and formed in her a hatred of the institution. In 1845, Mary married Universalist minister Daniel Liv-ermore, who shared her belief in abolitionism and temperance. An accomplished author, she published...