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Women of the Confederacy

 


Winnie Davis Monument in "Hollywood" Richmond Virginia

In Richmond, when the hospitals were filled with wounded men brought in from the seven days' fighting with McClellan, and the surgeon found it impossible to dress half the wounds, a band was formed, consisting of nearly all the married women of the city, who took upon themselves the duty of going to the hospitals and dressing wounds from morning till night; and they persisted in their painful duty, until every man was cared for, saving hundreds of lives, as the surgeons unanimously testified. When nitre was found to be growing scarce, and the supply of gunpowder was consequently about to give out, women all over the land dug up the earth in their smoke-houses and tobacco barns, and with their own hands faithfully extracted the desired salt, for use in the government laboratories.

Many of them denied themselves not only delicacies, but substantial food also, when, by enduring semi-starvation, they could add to the stock of food at the command of the subsistence officers. I, myself, knew more than one houseful of women, who, from the moment that food began to grow scarce, refused to eat meat or drink coffee, living thenceforth only upon vegetables of a speedily perishable sort, in order that they might leave the more for soldiers in the field. When a friend remonstrated with one of them, on the ground that her health, already frail, was breaking down utterly for want of proper diet, she replied, in a quiet, determined way, "I know that very well; but it is little that I can do, and I must do that little at any cost. My health and life are worth less than those of my brothers, and if they give theirs to the cause, why should not I do the same? I would starve to death cheerfully, if I could feed one soldier more by doing so, but the things I eat can't be sent to camp, I think it a sin to eat anything that can be used for rations." And she meant what she said, too, as a little mound in the churchyard testifies.

Every Confederate remembers gratefully the reception given him when he went into any house where these women were. Whoever he might be, and whatever his plight, if he wore the gray, he was received, not as a beggar or tramp, not even as a stranger, but as a son of the house, for whom it held nothing too good, and whose comfort was the one care of all its inmates, even though their own must be sacrificed in securing it. When the hospitals were crowded, the people earnestly besought permission to take the men to their houses and to care for them there, and for many months almost every house within a radius of a hundred miles of Richmond held one or more wounded men as especially honored guests.

"God bless these Virginia women," said a general officer from one of the cotton states, one day; "they're worth a regiment apiece." And he spoke the thought of the army, except that their blessing covered the whole country as well as Virginia.

United Daughters of the Confederacy

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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