The experiences of women in the Civil War South have fascinated historians for years. Catherine Clinton, Nina Silber, Drew Gilpin Faust, and a number of other scholars have carefully examined the lives and roles of Southern women and how their social and economic situations shaped their experiences. Most of these historians, however, cluster all ages together to represent Southern women as a whole.' While this approach has provided a detailed description of the collective lives of these women during the Civil War, it overlooks how different generations of women experienced the conflict. This paper will compare two separate generations of Southern women during the Civil War: young women of marriageable age and middle-aged women beyond childbearing years. The lives of six Southern women will be analyzed along with existing scholarship in order to explore the influence of age upon feminine wartime experience. Three of the women studied are of the younger generation: 16-year-old Alice Williamson of Tennessee, 22-year-old Emma Holmes of South Carolina, and 19-year-old Sarah Morgan Dawson of Louisiana. The remaining women are middle aged and include 55-year-old Nancy Emerson of Virginia, 38-year-old Mary Boykin Chesnut of South Carolina, and 48-year-old Judith McGuire of Virginia. As I hope to show, attending to these generational differences will help to clarify how the war altered the range and nature of social responsibilities for women in the Southern U.S.
Todd, Anna Leigh
"Spirited Belles and Selfless Mothers: A Generational Analysis of Women in the Civil War South,"
The Catalyst: Vol. 2
, Article 6.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/southernmisscatalyst/vol2/iss1/6