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Title: Our Women in the War

Author: Francis Warrington Dawson

Release date: February 4, 2018 [eBook #56495]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Capt. Francis W. Dawson,
Academy of Music, Baltimore, Md.
Walker, Evans & Cogswell Company, Printers,
Nos. 3 and 5 Broad and 117 East Bay Sts.



In the writings of Count Montholon there is the following passage: “On great occasions, it is almost always women who have given the strongest proofs of virtue and devotion. The reason is that, with men, good and bad qualities are, in general, the result of calculation, whilst in women they are impulses springing from the heart.”

Macaulay, in one of his essays, speaks of “that perfect disinterestedness and self-devotion of which man seems incapable, but which is sometimes found in woman.”

This virtue, this perfect disinterestedness and self-devotion, was manifested on every side, and on all occasions, by Southern women during the Confederate war. Their constancy and fidelity, their tenderness and courage, their unfailing cheerfulness and patience, have no parallel in the history of human achievement and human suffering.

Think for a moment of the peculiar circumstances. The soldiers on the Northern side fought as the Confederates fought, and were equally exposed to the fatigue of the march and the hazard of battle. But the Northern soldier was well-clad, well-fed, well-armed. Naught that science and wealth could furnish to make him an effective combatant was allowed to remain wanting. The Confederate, on the other hand, was stinted in his food, and, besides, was poorly equipped in arms and munitions. In a campaign, he was more often bare-backed and bare-footed than warmly clothed and well-shod.

Apply the same test to the women. The mothers and wives, sisters and daughters, of the Northern soldiers were worn with anxiety as the Southern women were. The sword of affliction pierced every heart alike. But there was a striking difference, nevertheless. The bereavement of the Southern maid and matron was more agonizing than that of the Northern matron and maid, because the South risked more of its own flesh and blood than the North risked, family by family. This is not all. Apart from the fear of ill tidings of those in service, apart from the anguish that wounds, disease and death could bring, the Northern women had no special care or discomfort. They were in no danger themselves. There was no Milroy, no Butler, no Hunter, no Sheridan, no Sherman, to taunt and upbraid them, to strip them of their most precious mementoes, to steal or scatter their scanty store of provisions and burn their homes over their head.

4The Southern women, dwelling in a land which was hedged about with armies and fleets, and cut off from all regular and expeditious communication with the rest of the world, encountered every form of hardship and privation. Living almost alone on their plantations, they were at the mercy of their slaves. It is true that the slaves were, as a rule, faithful and submissive, but the peril existed all the same. There was difficulty, from the beginning, in obtaining such necessaries or luxuries as could not be home-made. As the years went by the privations became more and more intense. There was actual lack of meat and bread in many parts of the South. And, behind the black spectre, there was the threat of rapine and revenge whenever a raiding party should come within reach.

Therefore, it is that the lives of “Our Women in the War” are beyond the reach of comparison, and stand nobly, supremely alone, without peer or rival. Physical suffering, the torment of the body, was added to “crucifixion of the soul.”

What was the depth of their dolor, none but the All-seeing Eye could discern. But those who were with them, who were bound to them by ties of blood or affection, know this, at least, that the Southern women never hesitated or faltered; that every rich sacrifice on the altar of country but confirmed their resolution to surrender whatever else remained; that, in fine, they were joined to the Southern cause to love, to honor, to obey—for richer or for poorer, for better and for worse, and until death them should part!

The bloody struggle ended more than twenty years ago. Many a vacant chair has been filled, and merciful time has brought its consolations. Far be it from any of us to sow the bitter seeds of discord, or to revive the poignant regret at the loss of what “might have been.” For us, there is no country but this country. There is no flag but “the old flag.” To that country and to that flag we are true, in the measure of our truth to the cause that was lost and the flag that is furled forever. How could it be otherwise? The harder the soldier fights, and the better soldier he is, the more is he to be trusted when the strife and carnage are over. The noblest Americans in the North to-day are those who came first to the front, in the battle, and stayed there unto the end. And side by side with them are the Southern soldiers—the old Confederates—who met them face to face, and were as true as they. The better the soldier, the better the citizen. On that platform—broad as our blessed country—stand all our people—all of us—to-day.

Yet right is right. Truth is truth. It is well enough to cover our wounds and hide our scars. But never let it be denied—never should it be denied—that the scars and wounds are there. They are there, however, not to rankle or to irritate, but as signs and tokens of 5the days that are dead, and of glories and disasters whose memory we could not blot out if we would, and would not if we could! Too much history has already been written for us—too little has been written by ourselves, and for the justification of our people. It is, then, but meet and right that, on such an occasion as this, the truth shall be told, and the whole truth, even if it hurt the feelings of “our friends, the enemy.” It is not for their sake but for ours—not to pain them, but to set forth, in proper light and in true colors, the unexampled conduct of Southern women and Southern men, in the unsuccessful struggle for independence—that the eventful story, with its sunshine and shadow, should and must be told.

The war began. The “conflict” which the North, not the South, had made “irrepressible,” came at last. Troops were organizing in every part of this sunny land. As rapidly as the battalions were formed they were hurried to the front. There was, for a time, no special trouble in procuring, in the cities, the requisite uniforms and camp equipage. The women, in the towns where troops were stationed, applied themselves primarily to the construction of Havelocks and tobacco bags. These tobacco bags, by the way, were supposed to serve the same purpose as scalps in another kind of warfare. They marked, at least, the long-roll of pleasant words and kindly glances, if not of incipient flirtations. In the country districts, however, the work for the soldiers was more arduous. The whole time and thought of the women was given to the preparation of clothing. The courthouse or church formed a convenient place of meeting, and there the overcoats, jackets and other garments were deftly made. And how many hopes and prayers went forth with the flash of the flying needle, and the ache of the weary fingers. Nothing was too irksome, or too hard. The women made cartridges and sand bags, and in town and country alike scraped lint and prepared bandages, in sad anticipation of what was soon to come.

In a single word, the Southern women, old and young, gentle and simple, had but one thought, and that was to aid and encourage, in every conceivable way, the soldiers of the South. Aye! and the valor in the field would have but little worth without the bravery at home. Doubtless, many of you remember these exquisite lines:

The maid who binds her warrior’s sash,
And smiling, all her pain dissembles,
The while, beneath her drooping lash,
One starry tear-drop hangs and trembles—
Though Heaven alone records the tear,
And fame shall never know her story,
Her heart has shed a drop as dear
As ever dewed the field of glory!
6The wife who girds her husband’s sword,
’Mid little ones who weep and wonder;
And bravely speaks the cheering word,
What though her heart be rent asunder—
Doomed nightly in her dreams to hear
The bolts of war around him rattle,
Has shed as sacred blood as e’er
Was poured upon the field of battle!
The mother who conceals her grief,
While to her heart her son she presses,
Then breathes a few brave words and brief,
Kissing the patriot brow she blesses—
With no one but her secret God
To know the pain that weighs upon her,
Sheds holy blood, as e’er the sod
Received on Freedom’s field of honor!

Soon, all too soon, the provision for the care of the sick and wounded was found to be insufficient, and the Southern women then entered into their highest and most exalted labor, blessed and blessing. There was some little trouble in the beginning, perhaps, as young girls wanted to visit the hospitals at inconvenient times, and paid but little heed to a surgeon’s orders, regarding diet, when the sufferer was handsome or otherwise interesting. Every visitor wanted to do something for the soldiers. A joke was current in Richmond in those days which is worth recalling. The scene is in a Confederate hospital:

Lady: (presumably young and at the bedside of a sick soldier.) “How d’ye do? Is there anything you want?”

Soldier: (curtly.) “No, I believe not.”

Lady: “Is there nothing I can do for you?”

Soldier: “No! I think not.”

Lady: “Oh! I do want to do something for you. Can’t I wash your hands and face?”

Soldier: “Well! if you want to right bad, I reckon you can; but, if you do, you will be the fourteenth lady who has done so this morning.”

But the hospital work went on. The women had found their mission:

Fold away all your bright-tinted dresses,
Turn the key on your jewels to-day,
And the wealth of your tendril-like tresses
Braid back in a serious way.
No more delicate gloves—no more laces,
No more trifling in boudoir or bower;
But come—with your souls in your faces—
To meet the stern needs of the hour.
       *       *       *       *       *
7Pass on! It is useless to linger
While others are claiming your care;
There’s need of your delicate finger,
For your womanly sympathy there.
There are sick ones athirst for caressing—
There are dying ones raving of home,
There are wounds to be bound with a blessing—
And shrouds to make ready for some.
Up and down, through the wards, where the fever
Stalks noisome, and gaunt, and impure,
You must go with your steadfast endeavor,
To comfort, to counsel, to cure!
I grant that the task’s superhuman,
But strength will be given to you
To do for these dear ones what woman
Alone in her pity can do.
And the lips of the mothers will bless you
As angels, sweet-visaged and pale!
And the little ones run to caress you,
While the wives and sisters cry “Hail!”
But e’en if you drop down unheeded,
What matter? God’s ways are the best!
You have poured out your life where ’twas needed.
And he will take care of the rest.

There will be no attempt to describe in detail the work of the different hospitals in every part of the South, or to set forth the loving and charitable acts of all Southern women, wherever there was a Confederate soldier to comfort and to care for. The particular instances which are to be mentioned must be taken merely as exquisite specimens of a splendid whole.

During the winter of 1861–62, the number of sick and wounded soldiers who were sent to their homes in different parts of the South became considerable, and there was urgent need of means of caring for them and giving them proper nourishment during their journey.

The Wayside Hospital at Columbia, S. C., was established on March 10, 1862, and continued until February 15, 1865. Over one hundred soldiers were often accommodated with cots and three hundred with meals in a day. The Home was entirely supported by voluntary contributions from all parts of the State. Soldiers detained by sickness, and want of connection in the trains, had religious service from ministers of the different religious denominations. The number of soldiers entertained in this Home, during its existence of nearly three years, was about seventy-five thousand. After the 17th of February, 1865, when the Home could no longer be used, large numbers of soldiers received food and accommodations, when 8they were passing through Columbia. Funds belonging to the Wayside Home were sent to the upper districts as long as they were available, during the spring of 1865, benefiting in that way many soldiers returning home.

In an address delivered before the South Carolina Medical Association, at Charleston, in 1873, Dr. John T. Darby—himself distinguished for gallantry as well as surgical skill—alluding to the ameliorations of modern warfare, described the relief given to the soldiers on the way to and from their homes, and said:

“Here be it said, with justice and pride, that the credit of originating this system is due to the women of South Carolina. In a small room, in the capital of this State, the Wayside Home was founded. From this little nucleus spread that grand system of wayside hospitals which was established during our own and the late European wars.”

The Wayside Hospital at Columbia, S.C., was then the first institution of the kind, not only in this country, but in the whole world!

Were the noble women embarrassed or annoyed in the fulfilment of their welcome task? A lady who was at the Wayside Hospital at Columbia, almost daily, during the whole period of its existence, gives the answer. She says:

“I never heard a sentiment of disloyalty or dissatisfaction. I never heard a doubt thrown upon the right of our cause, or a regret that the war had begun. I never saw one man, however wasted by disease, or disabled by wounds, whose chief desire did not seem to be to recover as speedily as possible so that he might be back at his place in the field again; and while I encountered many illiterate, rough and uncouth men, I never met one who failed in that courtesy which every Southern man, however humble his station, instinctively accords to womanhood.”

One incident should not be passed over. The ladies at the Wayside Hospital, one morning, noticed that a pine box, covered with flowers, was being put on the train. They inquired whose remains were there. The reply was: “In that box lies the body of a young man whose family antedates the Bourbons of France. He was the last Count de Choiseul, and he has died for the South.” So let him be held in perpetual remembrance by all who love the South and revere the past!

The Wayside Hospital was not the only means of lessening the pain and travail of strife devised by “Our Women in the War.” At Charlottesville, Virginia, on April 15, 1862, was organized “The Ladies’ Kitchen,” as it was called. It was first suggested by the daughters of Senator Mason, of Virginia, who came to Charlottesville directly from their old home in Winchester, “where the women were 9particularly noted for their devotion and systematic attention to disabled soldiers.” And surely what is true of Winchester is true of all the Virginians of all the Valley.

The arrangement at Charlottesville was for a storeroom where provisions were kept, and a kitchen where the Virginia women cooked, with their own hands, such food as the surgeons prescribed. They did not confine themselves to dainty preparations such as custards and jellies, although these were made with rare skill out of materials often inadequate to their presentment, according to prescribed rules. Unused to labor as they were, these gentle women kneaded huge trays full of bread and withheld not their hands from any task, however irksome and laborious. The necessities of the times taught those apt scholars many a strange lesson of economy and ingenuity combined, so that, if the receipts for many a dish concocted to suit the exigencies of Confederate supplies had been written down, they would have added a valuable chapter to the culinary lore of our country. The commissary furnished the storeroom with such substantial as meat, flour, sugar, and also fuel, but to voluntary contributions the managers looked for all else, and seldom was their larder empty.

The Ladies’ Kitchen, at Charlottesville, continued its merciful work from day to day, Sundays included, for three whole years. There was a roll of honor, on which every donation was recorded, but it is believed to have been destroyed at the time of “the great Yankee raid.” Well may it be said, however, that “with no thought of self-seeking were those gifts made, and surely we may look for their record on high, although every vestige of them may have departed from earth, save in the memories of a faithful few.”

There was infinite pathos in the scenes in the hospitals, but there was at times an element of humor in the sadness. Tears and smiles are near allied. An anecdote which is told by Miss Emily V. Mason, of Virginia, illustrates this.

In the field was Gen. R. E. Lee. At home, his gentle wife—Mary Custis Lee—spent most of her time in knitting gloves and socks for the soldiers. Mrs. Lee gave Miss Mason, at one time, several pairs of Gen. Lee’s old socks. Miss Mason says:

“The socks were so darned that we saw that, they had been well worn by our hero. We kept them to apply to the feet of those laggard old soldiers who were suspected of preferring the luxury of hospital life to the activity of the field, and such was the effect of the application of these warlike socks that even a threat of it had the effect of sending a man to his regiment who had been lingering for months in inactivity. It came to be a standing joke in the hospital, and was infinitely enjoyed by the men. If a poor wretch was out of his bed over a week he would be threatened with Gen. Lee’s socks, and through this means some most obstinate chronic cases were cured. Four of the most determined rheumatic patients, who had resisted scarifying of the limbs, and, what was worse, the smallest and thinest 10of diets, were sent to their regiments and did good service afterwards. With these men the socks had to be left on several hours amidst shouts of laughter from the assistants, showing that, though men may resist pain and starvation, they succumb at once to ridicule.”

To appreciate what was accomplished in hospitals and kitchens and by individual effort for the care and comfort of the soldiers, it is only necessary to compare the resources of the Southern people with those which were at the command of the Northern soldiers and their friends. To these the whole world was open; their means were boundless. In the South there was need of the utmost ingenuity to procure what was strictly requisite. Of all the marvels of Southern life, in those days, none was greater than the success of the women in making much out of little, and apparently something out of nothing. Their love, their devotion, gave them a patient ingenuity and enduring readiness which no phrase can adequately portray or define.

When the soldiers came home, there was a jubilee, for they brought particular tidings of others as well as themselves. They were feasted and danced to the top of their bent. What if the feast had in it more of tenderness and grace than of sumptuous cheer. Our women gave what they had—denying themselves in giving it—and the soldiers thought more of wife and sister and sweetheart than of mere “cakes and ale.” Then, while the soldiers were away, and before the bitterest times had come, there was the pleasant duty of sending boxes to camp. One of the chroniclers says:

“We girls worked very hard, as we thought, giving concerts, tableaux, &c., by which to raise money with which to purchase for these boxes. I can see even now the bevy of bright-eyed, red-lipped, white-handed girls, flitting hither and thither in their dainty dresses and bright ribbons. What a lovely picture they made tripping, or kneeling by the huge boxes, packing parcels marked for ‘Captain,’ or ‘Lieutenant,’ or ‘Private,’ so and so. I smile with a sadness akin to pain as I recall the contents of those first boxes, the proceeds of what we call labor! Wine and jellies, mammoth cakes and confections, dainty toilet appurtenances, china and majolica shaving cups, inlaid dressing cases, perfumery, &c. There were bursts of silvery laughter and little shrieks of delight as we found one more place where something could be stored. There were books, too, small blue and gold bound volumes of the poets, interlined with pencil, and holding between the leaves a cluster of blue-eyed violets, purple pansies, or a geranium leaf, clasping on its green heart a rosy oleander.”

All such giving of good gifts, be it remembered, was very early in the fray. Yet in the larger cities, as in Richmond, there was always abundant merry-making. In the soft summer days, the sweet stillness broken only by the boom of a distant gun on the lines, there 11was abundant opportunity for party-giving, for riding excursions, and, it must be said, for innocent flirtations. Though there was, by this time, an abiding ache in nearly every woman’s heart, there was ever a smile for the soldier and a cheering word besides. Nor was the paramount consideration, success in the war, ever forgotten. The man who was not quick to enter the service found no favor in the sight of our women, nor did he who was inclined to linger overlong in town. The story is told of a young lady who was engaged to be married. Her betrothed was, of course, in the army, but suddenly returned home. “Why, have you left the army?” she inquired of him. “I have found a substitute,” he replied. “Well, sir, I can follow your example, and find a substitute, too. Good morning.” And she left him in the middle of the room—a discarded lover, because he was a disgraced soldier.

Then were “starvation” parties in vogue. You remember them. There were no refreshments, save an abundance of water as tawny as the historic stream of Father Tiber. But there was no less merriment, no less jesting, no less coquetting, no less love-making. The coming events cast their shadows before, perhaps. There was something of feverishness in the joy of those days. But through it all the women—“Our Women in the War”—were undaunted and resolute, trusting in the God of Battles, and believing in the justice of our cause, as you and I believe—and as all of us who wore the Confederate gray, and are not renegades or apostates, will believe to the end!

Turn now for a moment from the gay cities to the plantations in the “far South.” There the mails were received irregularly, and news—even ill news—was slow in coming. This made the pain and suffering the greater. Everywhere the lot of the women at home was harder than that of the soldier in the field. A thousand anxieties were theirs which were unknown to him. If he were not killed or wounded in an engagement, he knew it, and he could contentedly await his next chance; but for days, and perhaps weeks, the poor women at home were kept in agonized suspense. Yet their hands were full. There was room for the exercise of all the administrative and executive ability—the power to direct and the will to command—which the slave system conferred upon the Southern women. Out upon those who speak of them, and write of them, as drones, as women who lived in luxurious indolence!

For the sake of one who knew of what he wrote, and who expressed it in every thought and aspiration of his learned and loving life, allow me to recall to you what my dear friend, Dr. G. W. Bagby, of Virginia—humorist, scholar and always gentleman—said of the Virginia matron, who is the type of all our mothers and sisters in the South:

12“Over and over, the cares and responsibilities of her station, as the mother of so many children, the mistress of so many servants and the hostess of so many guests, had utterly overwhelmed her. Again and again had she been willing, nay, glad—were it God’s pleasure—to lay down the burden that was too heavy for poor human nature to bear. To her own sorrows she added the sorrows of her friends, her neighbors, her dependents. Into how many negro cabins had she not gone, when the night was far spent and the lamp of life flickered low in the breast of the dying slave! How often she ministered to him with her own hands! Thin hands, wasted with overwork—for she disdained no labor, manual or mental—I can see them now! Nay, had she not knelt by his lowly bed and poured out her heart to God as his soul winged its flight, and closed his glazed and staring eyes as the day was dawning. Yet the morning meal found her at her accustomed seat, tranquil and helpful, and no one but her husband the wiser for her night’s ministrations.

“What poor woman, for miles around, knew not the brightness of her coming? Some of her own children had been taken from her—that deep anguish she knew it all—and the children of her neighbors, even the humblest, had died in her lap; herself had washed and shrouded them.

“To feed, to clothe, to teach, to guide, to comfort, to nurse, to provide for and to watch over a great household, and keep its complex machinery in noiseless order—those were the woman’s rights which she asserted, and there was none to dispute that this was her mission, and none ever dared to question it.”

Have you any just idea of the burdens and cares of the Southern women in the last two or three years of the war? Take the vivid description given by Mrs. Mary Rhodes, of Alabama, as an illustration:

“We not only had to furnish clothes for our own immediate soldiers, but there were others belonging to the company whose friends were entirely out of reach, and we clothed them to the end. The clothing for the negroes was a heavy item, and all supplies of that kind was cut off, and we could only give them what was made at home. On every plantation, and almost in every house, were heard the constant hum of the wheels and click of the looms. The soldiers’ clothes were a constant care. As soon as one suit was sent another was made, for they often lost their clothing, and it had to be ready to send at a moment’s notice.

“We wore homespun dresses, which were really very pretty. At a little distance they looked like gingham, and we were very proud of our work. We dyed them very prettily, and were more anxious to learn a new process of dyeing than we ever had been to learn a new stitch in crochet or worsted work. We knitted all the undershirts the soldiers wore, also socks and gloves, besides those required at home. We often knitted until midnight, after all the day’s work was done, and ladies knitted as they rode in their carriages. Indeed, we were very busy, and in the constant employment found our greatest comfort. I heard one woman say: ‘I never go to bed until I am too tired and worn out to think.’

“And through all the trials, and trouble, and work, the love of the South kept us up. We never would listen to the thought that 13we might fail. We fully realized what defeat meant, and dreaded it so much that we were willing to risk our all rather than submit to it. We had the hardest lot. The men were moving about—to-day a fight, or looking forward to one, the constant excitement keeping them up; and even when not on duty the camp seldom failed to provide amusement. We at home had to sit still and wait.

“Now in those last two years all our medicines were exhausted, and we had to go to the woods for bark, and roots and herbs. We made quinine of dogwood and poplar, boiled to a strong decoction, and then to paste. We had to do the work of a chemist, without his laboratory. We made our own mustard and opium and castor oil. This last, with all the refining that we were capable of, was a terrible dose, and only used in extreme cases.”

There was a host of queer devices. Shoe blacking was made from the China berry, and it unfortunately happened, once at least, that a bottle of it which was sent, with a quantity of edibles, to a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute was applied internally instead of externally. The comment of the cadet who swallowed it was that “the catsup was rather insipid.”

For ordinary candles and lamps there were many substitutes, such as sycamore balls split in half and soaked in some fatty substance. On the large plantations candles were made from beef tallow, with twisted cloth for wicks, or of tallow and beeswax. There were also green candles made of the wax of myrtle berries.

Then the children in those days, as even in these days, would burst their buttons. Pins could take their place, but pins cost $5 a paper. Persimmon, peach and gourd seeds were then resorted to. It was only necessary to extract the seeds and bore holes in them, by which they could be sewed on, and lo! there was a button more durable than that of pearl or porcelain.

Exquisite artificial flowers were made from goose feathers, and what was considered a very pretty head-dress was made from the pith of a pumpkin.

House-made dyes were easily devised: For yellow, sassafras; for drab, kalmia or dwarf laurel; for slate color in cotton and blue-black, in wool or linen, willow bark; for chocolate brown, red oak bark; for lead color, white oak bark; for dyeing cotton a dun color, sweet gum bark; for dyeing wool lead color, the seeds of guinea corn.

Here is another woman’s story:

“The nimble fingers were never idle, nor did they stop at the adornment of self. The women stitched incessantly. What a precious thing a needle was in those days! Bone and wooden knitting needles were used when steel failed. Our women wove domestic and linsey-woolsey. Black and white check was very popular. Gray and brown flannels, piped with scarlet, made very pretty and serviceable suits. Then Garibaldis came into vogue. These were made of every material, from velvet to muslin, and worn with black or 14plaid skirts. Cotton and woollen yarn was used for a hundred different purposes. It was knitted into gloves, caps, jackets, comforters, socks, shirts and skirts. Our shoes were carefully husbanded. Happy was that maiden whose lover captured and sent her a pair when out on a raid. Sheepskin made a soft but stretchable shoe. Hats were crocheted of homespun cotton, bleached, starched, pressed and trimmed with odds and ends of ribbons and flowers made of feathers. Sometimes they were made of palmetto, bleached, split and plaited. Those palmetto hats, without trimming, cost only $30. They were trimmed with ornaments made of palmetto or dried natural grasses, wheat ears, &c. Hats for the boys and men were made of remains of the soldiers’ clothes, or of rushes, and sometimes of pine needles twisted and sewn together with strong homespun twisted and dyed thread. Heavy? Yes, but what would you do? They could not go bare-headed. Stylish jackets were contrived out of the cast-off clothes of some male member of the family, and all were glad to make over old clothes which, in ante-bellum days, were scarce good enough for the negroes.

“Money there was in plenty, but some things were not to be bought. One dollar was good for a piece of gingerbread five inches square, but the syrup and flour were home-raised, and ginger there was none. Fifty cents would buy a pint of ‘goobers,’ but they, too, were home-raised. ‘Striped candy’ for the little ones was not come-at-able, but our women boiled the home-made syrup, and that answered as well.”

Tea was made of the sassafras root or blackberry leaf. Coffee was made of parched meal, rye, wheat, okra, corn and black-eyed peas. Late in the war, it was discovered that parched sweet potato was the best substitute. Miss Kate Burwell Bowyer, of Bedford, Va., gives an amusing illustration of the patriotic adaptability of our people. It was, as she says, at once amusing and pathetic when the old Virginia cavaliers would meet and innocently endeavor to assist each other in sustaining our various patriotic Confederate delusions. Then such a colloquy as this would take place:

“Now, Mr. B., what do you think this coffee is?”

Mr. B., emphatically: “Think it is? Madame, I do not often now, as I said, taste the genuine article, but still I can never be deceived when I do come across it. This is the real old Mocha!”

Mrs. Bowyer’s mother, who prided herself upon her own particular admixture and adjustment, as did other housekeepers, with equal right, pride themselves upon theirs, now came forth deliberately and with triumph.

“This, sir, is parched wheat, with a little rye and a few roasted chestnuts added, I never put sweet potatoes in mine!”

Mr. B., rising in eloquence: “If such a drink as this can be compounded without coffee, I find we have in our time expended hundreds of dollars uselessly upon the product, and if the war should end to-morrow, I protest I shall never desire any better drink than the cup of coffee you gave me to-day.”

And not only in Virginia. There is a venerable gentle woman in South Carolina, who numbers well-nigh four-score years, who insists to this day that the best coffee she ever tasted was made during 15the war, and from rye at that. Such were our Southern women. This lady last mentioned was born in a Northern State, yet firmly believes that there is no place like the South, and that, as one of the preachers said at Columbia, after the burning of that city, “there will be no villanous Yankees in the New Jerusalem”—unless “they have entirely new hearts.”

Dress was peculiar, if pretty. The bodies of black silk dresses were turned into bonnets, which were lined with red or blue satin from the lining of old coat sleeves.

For ornaments the girls wore jewelry of their own making. Dainty chains and bracelets were formed of water-melon seeds, linked together and varnished and dried. Earrings, pins and bracelets were made of S. C. army buttons, also of palmetto cut into lace fibres, and so prepared and cured as to be cream-tinted. Gleaming pearl-like flowers were formed of bleached and polished fish scales.

The most ingenious dress that is recorded was a black silk, made from the covers of worn parasols, the umbrella-form being preserved. It was lined with mosquito netting and considered very stylish.

By the autumn of 1863, any lingering tendency to follow the fashions “had long since been beaten out of the female mind, and women now aspired to nothing beyond the mere wearing of clothes, irrespective of style, shape or texture. Large women appeared squeezed into garments of smallest proportions, small women floating about in almost limitless space, while women of tall statue dangled below circumscribed skirts, and others trailed about in fathoms of useless material. To all these eccentricities of costumes the Confederate eye had become inured, as well as to the striking effect of blue bonnets with green plumes, red dresses with purple mantles, &c., until these extraordinary modes failed to offend even the most fastidious.”

But there were some bright spots, as in the account of a Confederate marriage at Bull’s Gap, Tennessee, which is found in Mr. de Fontaine’s Marginalia:

“The bridegroom stood largely over six honest feet in his socks, was as hairy as Esau, and pale, slim and lank. His jacket and pants represented each other of the contending parties at war. His shoes were much the worse for wear, and his toes, sticking out of the gaping rents thereof, reminded one of the many little heads of pelicans you observe protruding from the nest which forms a part of the coat of arms of Louisiana. The exact color of his suit could not be given. Where the buttons had been lost in the wear and tear of the war, an unique substitute, in the shape of persimmon seed, was used. The bride had assayed to wash ‘Alabam’s’ clothes, while he modestly concealed himself behind a brush heap.

“The bride was enrobed in a neat but faded dress. Her necklace was composed of a string of chinquapins, her brow was environed by 16a wreath of faded bonnet flowers, and her wavy red hair was tucked up behind in the old-fashioned way. She wore a stout pair of number nine brogans, and her stockings and gloves were made of rabbit skin, fur side next to the skin. On her fingers were discerned several gutta percha and bone rings, presents, at various times, from her lover. All being ready, the ‘Texas parson’ proceeded to his duty with becoming gravity. ‘Special’ acted the part of waiter for the bride and groom. Opening the book, the parson commenced: ‘Close up!’ and the twain closed up. ‘Hand to your partner!’ and the couple handed. ‘Attention to orders!’ and we all attentioned. Then the following was read aloud: ‘By order of our directive general, Braxton Bragg, I hereby solemnly pronounce you man and wife, for and during the war, and you shall cleave unto each other until the war is over, and then apply to Governor Watts for a family right of public land in Pike County, the former residence of the bridegroom, and you and each of you will assist to multiply and replenish the earth.’”

The end was drawing nigh. Sadness sat on the brows of patient mothers who had demeaned themselves so gallantly, and of wives who had blithely buckled on their husbands’ swords. In the latter part of 1863 flour was $50 a barrel, bacon $2.25 a pound, salt 70 cents a pound, butter $1 a pound, meal $2.25 a bushel, tobacco $4 a pound, sugar $2 a pound, sheeting $1.75 a yard, nails $1.50 a pound. Fearful prices; but low in comparison with the prices a year later, when butter was as high as $10 a pound, bleached domestic $12.50 a yard, spool cotton $1 a spool, and a pair of cavalry boots $250. In Richmond, in March, 1865, the prices, as recorded at the time, were: Barrel of flour $300, coffee per pound $40, butter $25, beefsteak $13, shoes $80 a pair, and sewing cotton $4 and $5 a spool.

Under the stress of the rapidly depreciating currency and the demands of refugees who had no place where to lay their heads, rents became enormously high, and houses of average size were usually occupied by five or six families. Each family had its own rooms, with the right to use the common parlor. Those who had had whole houses now only had rooms. The fit phrase was coined, “Are you housekeeping?” “No,” was the response, “I room-keep.” Prices went higher and higher. It sorrowfully was said, towards the end of the war, that the frugal housewife took her Confederate money to market in a basket and brought back in her pocket all she could buy with it. But how touching is the history of the Confederate note:

Too poor to possess the precious ores,
And too much of a stranger to borrow,
We issue to-day our promise to pay,
And hope to redeem on the morrow.
The days rolled on and weeks became years
But our coffers were empty still.
Gold was so scarce, the treasury quaked,
If a dollar should drop in the till.
17But the faith that was in us was strong indeed,
Though our poverty was undiscerned,
And this little note represented the pay
That our suffering veterans earned.
They knew it had hardly a value in gold,
But as gold our soldiers received it;
It gazed in our eyes with a promise to pay,
And every true soldier believed it.
But our boys thought little of price or pay,
Or of bills that were overdue.
We knew if it bought our bread to-day
’Twas the best our poor country could do.
Keep it, it tells all our history o’er,
From the birth of the dream to the last;
Modest, and born of the Angel Hope,
Like our hope of success it Passed!

Nevertheless, there was no doubt, no dismay. The army must be fed and clothed. Boxes must still be sent to the dear boys in the West, or in the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond. Yet how different was the picture. Miss A. C. Clark, of Atlanta, draws a vivid sketch of the scene:

“Were these the same people—these haggard, wrinkled women, bowed with care and trouble, sorrow and unusual toil? These tame, pale, tearless girls, from whose soft flesh the witching dimples had long since departed, or were drawn down into furrows—were they the same school girls of 1861? These women who, with coarse, lean and brown hands, sadly and mechanically were stowing away into boxes, (not large ones,) meat, bread, cabbage, dried fruit, soda, syrup, home-made shoes and coarse home knit socks, garments of osnaburg and homespun, home-woven clothing of every description—these women with scant, faded cotton gowns and coarse leather shoes—these women who silently and apathetically packed the boxes, looking into them with the intense and sorrowful gaze that one casts into the grave—were these, I say, could these be the same airy-robed, white-fingered women, so like flowers, who, months and months ago, (it appeared an eternity) packed away, ’mid laughter and song, smile and jest those articles de luxe for the boys at the front?

“Before the close of the conflict I knew women to walk twenty miles for a half bushel of coarse, musty meal with which to feed their starving little ones, and leave the impress of their feet in blood on the stones of the wayside ere they reached home again. When there, the meal was cooked and ravenously eaten, though there was not even salt to be eaten with it. Yet these women did not complain, but wrote cheerful letters to their husbands and sons, if they were yet living, bidding them to do their duty and hold the last trench.”

What wonder is it? Even superhuman strength could not bear unmoved the burden placed upon the frail bodies and indomitable minds of the women and children. Think of what their losses were. Death on the battlefield or in hospital had brought desolation to tens of thousands of once joyous homes. Every household was in mourning. What Southern family had altogether escaped? The poor 18suffered with those who had been rich. Mr. James Argo, of Pulaski County, Ga., had fourteen sons and sons-in-law in service. Ex-Governor Wm. A. Graham, of North Carolina, had five sons in the army, and his sister, the wife of the Rev. Dr. Morrison, gave two sons and four sons-in-law to the Southern cause, and among these sons-in-law were D. H. Hill and Stonewall Jackson. The Shuler family, originally from Orangeburg District, South Carolina, had fifty-one direct representatives in the Confederate service. The Easterlings, of South Carolina, had sixty-three. Mrs. Hamrick, of Cleveland County, North Carolina, had seven children, all boys. Six of them went at once into service; the seventh was little more than a child. At Fredericksburg was killed Lieut. Bell, of Augusta County. Twelve of the members of his family wore the Confederate gray, and he was the ninth to be slain, and all of them in the same regiment. But why prolong the harrowing record! It establishes what was asserted in the beginning—that, in the nature and extent of their sorrows and sufferings, the Southern women were tried as no other women were ever tried, and that, whoever else grew hopeless and timorous, they were unflinching and unbending, faithful and true.

But the worst of the agony of the wives and mothers of the South, the worst of their trials and sufferings, was yet to come. It was in the very last days, in the march of Sherman’s columns through Georgia and Carolina, in the raids in Virginia, that the culmination of insult and wrong was reached. From the innumerable descriptions of the brutal and barbarous conduct of the invading armies it is difficult to select those which are most significant, and your patience may already be exhausted. But what is sought to be impressed upon you—so that you shall never forget it—is that the raiders and bummers had no respect for age or sex, for young children, tender women, decrepit old men.

Shortly after the burning of Columbia, a body of Northern troops crossed the Catawba River and entered the town of Lancaster, S. C. What followed is described by a gentle woman who was there:

“At daylight my aged mother was engaged in her devotions, her room being down stairs. In a moment her arms were seized by rough soldiers, who exclaimed: ‘Get up, old woman; praying will do you no good now, for Sherman’s bummers are upon you!’ Her gold spectacles were torn from her eyes, her pocket was rifled, her bureau, valise and dressing table were stripped of every article of value or comfort.

“A lovely little girl of six years, who had treasured her pet doll and a cake of sweet soap, a great luxury in those days, during all her journey from Columbia, sprang out of bed, seized her treasures, and, childlike, darted under the bed for refuge. The same disgusting scene of pillage and violence was occurring in the room as had happened below. At length one of the men approached the bed, and 19finding it warm, in dreadful language accused us of harboring and concealing a wounded rebel, and swore he would have his heart’s blood. He stooped to look under the bed, and seeing the little white figure crouching in a distant corner, caught her by one rosy little foot and dragged her forth. The child was too terror-stricken to cry, but clasped her little baby, and her soap, fast to the throbbing little heart. The man wrenched both from her and thrust the little one away with such violence that she fell against the bed.”

There were times, however, when the biter was bit. Mrs. Gilmer Breckinridge, of Fincastle, Va., was visited by the enemy. The usual searching and plundering began. One of the men opened a press and, finding a bottle labelled “blackberry wine,” seized it and swallowed the contents at a gulp. No sooner had he done so than, dashing the bottle from him with an oath, he yelled out in rage:

“My God, you have poisoned me.”

“You have poisoned yourself,” replied Mrs. P. with provoking complacency.

“Why did you not tell me it wasn’t wine?”

“You did not ask me,” replied Mrs. P.

Now, although the man never found out, Mrs. P. knew he had only taken a heavy dose of iron filings, a medicine prescribed as a tonic, and put in a bottle, from which she had forgotten to remove the original label.

One of the most painful of all the stories of cruelty and insult is told by a lady who was living at Walhalla, S. C., which was visited by the enemy on May 1, 1865, three weeks after the surrender at Appomattox. There were but four persons in the little household: the writer of the sketch; a brother, who was fifteen years old; a one-armed soldier, an older brother, who had returned from the army a mere wreck of his former self; and lastly his wife. The one-armed soldier is spoken of as Earle, and his wife as Iris. Here are the more striking passages:

“In a second of time the rooms swarmed with armed men intent on finding the treasure. Fearful oaths and threats were heard as they explored the house from cellar to garret, succeeded by shouts of savage exultation as the heavy old chests were drawn from their hiding places and the rich contents exposed to the greedy gaze of the plunderers. Looking at the wealth before them, their cry for gold was for a time silenced, and with coarse jests and triumphant laugh they began the work of appropriation. Haversacks and pockets were filled, and when no dint of pressing could put more into them, snowy cases were drawn from pillows and converted into sacks into which they stored their booty.

“With feelings difficult to analyze, I followed the robbers upstairs, determined, if possible, to rescue some of the jewels at least. These now lay scattered over the floor, and the men, down on their knees, were making selections. So intent were they on their work that at first they did not observe my entrance. I watched them quietly until I saw the wretch, styling himself Colonel, take up a 20ring, which, more on account of associations than for any intrinsic value, I highly prized. ‘You will not take that,’ I said, stepping forward and extending my hand. ‘That ring was the gift of one now dead, and I cannot afford to lose it.’

“‘Some damned lover I suppose, whose bones I trust are now bleaching on the battlefield! Well, give me a kiss and you shall have it.’

“I recoiled, with the disgust I felt depicted in my face.

“‘You won’t? Well, then, I’ll keep it and give it to my mother or sister when I get back to Boston,’ and so saying, in nasal tones that were hateful to my ears, the ruffian pocketed the only souvenir I possessed of ‘the tender grace of a day that is dead that can never come back to me.’

“Meanwhile, the tumult outside increased. Fresh voices appeared to swell the chorus of yells, and we soon learned that the Yankees had been joined by another troop of horsemen. These, with the negroes who had by this time cast off all restraint, and who numbered fifty or sixty, were holding a wild revel over several barrels of whiskey—for it was the latter and not gold that had called forth such jubilant cries. Unfortunately, only a day before this, this liquor had been stored away for safe-keeping in an outhouse.

“Now followed a succession of scenes that beggars description. The ruffians drank and swore, and some, sitting beside the barrels, uttered the most horrible blasphemies. Others with a canteen of whiskey in one hand, while the other brandished a gun, filed in and out of the house, filling our ears with what they intended doing if the gold was not soon found. The negroes, half-crazed by the liquor they had imbibed, and urged on by the Yankees, crowded into the rooms, taking liberties they had never before attempted, and appropriating what little spoil the men had left. Only a few proved faithful in this hour of trial.

“All night long the men kept up their wild orgies, quarrelling and even fighting meantime for a fresh distribution of spoil. The new-comers wanted their share, and at the point of the bayonet urged their demand. To make matters worse the negroes held a revel of their own to celebrate the advent of their ‘Northern bred’rin.’ For hours we could hear them dancing and shouting, and calling down all manner of blessings on ‘Ole Mars’ Lincoln,’ until overcome by excitement and the whiskey they had imbibed they fell exhausted into a drunken sleep.

“It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when the Colonel, followed by some of the most desperate looking of his ruffians, rushed up to Earle, and shaking his gun at him, exclaimed, in a voice quivering with passion:

“‘Curse you! We won’t wait another moment on you to deliver up the gold. Tell us where it is, or by G— I’ll shoot you down.’

“In a shorter time than I can relate it, the inhuman wretches dragged my helpless brother beneath a large maple tree, and placing a strong rope around his neck, prepared to execute their threat. Ah! the agony of that moment! We read of the times that tried men’s hearts, but where is the pen that can ever portray the depths of suffering which have been fathomed by the hearts of Southern women during the dark days of Secession!

“The rope was tightening, when one of the men exclaimed: ‘Where is his wife! She must see him swing!’ And, as if in answer to his call, Iris sprang forward and tightly grasped the rope.

“‘You dare not! You shall not kill him!’ she cried, her face blanched to the dreadful whiteness of death.

21“‘Who will stop us, you cursed Rebel?’ asked the Colonel, who of all those brutal creatures seemed to me the most inhuman. ‘Here, men, pull her off, and if she won’t keep her distance make her.’”

“Rudely they tore her hands from the rope, and held them firmly despite her efforts to free herself. Then I saw the rope tighten once more and my poor brother swing into mid-air. A fresh chorus of shouts, mingled with a woman’s scream—a scream of intense relief and deep, heartfelt thankfulness—called me back to the scene of violence, where I found the work of death had been suddenly and mercifully stayed!”

Ruffianism of a similar character is described by Mrs. Nora M. Canning, of Macon, Ga. Her husband, who had been absent for some days, was brought in on a bare-backed mule, escorted by a party of Northern soldiers. Mrs. Canning says:

“I got my husband to his room as soon as possible, and found that he was very faint, as I thought, from fatigue. Imagine my horror, therefore, when he revived sufficiently to talk, to hear that the fiends had taken him to the swamp and hanged him. He said that he suspected no harm until he had gotten about two miles from the house, when they stopped, and, taking him from the mule, said: ‘Now, old man, you have got to tell us where your gold is hidden.’ He told them he had no gold. They then took him to a tree which bent over the path, tied a rope around his neck, threw it over a projecting limb and drew him up until his feet were off the ground. He did not quite lose consciousness when they let him down and said: ‘Now, where is your gold?’ He told them the same story, whereupon one of them cried: ‘We will make you tell another story before we are done with you. So pull him up again boys!’ They raised him up again, and that time, he said, he felt as if he were suffocating. They again lowered him to the ground and cried out fiercely: ‘Now tell us where that gold is or we will kill you, and your wife will never know what has become of you.’ ‘I have told you the truth—I have no gold,’ he again repeated, adding: ‘I am an old man and at your mercy. If you want to kill me you have the power to do it, but I cannot die with a lie upon my lips. I have no gold, I have a gold watch at the house, but nothing else. One of them, who seemed to be the leader, said: ‘Swing the old Rebel up again; next time we will get all the truth from him.’ They then lifted him up and let him fall with more force than before. He heard a sound as of water rushing through his head, and then a blindness came over him, and a dry choking sensation was felt in his throat as he lost consciousness. The next thing he remembered he was some distance from the place where he was hanged, lying with his head down the hill near a stream of water, and one of the men was bathing his face and another rubbing his hands. For some time he was unable to speak. Then he heard one of the men say: ‘We liked to have carried that game too far.’ When he was able to sit up they placed him upon the mule and brought him to the house to get his watch.”

Mrs. Henrietta E. Lee wrote to Gen. David Hunter a burning protest against the burning of her house, together with the house of Col. A. R. Boteler and Andrew Hunter in the lower valley of Virginia, and Governor Letcher’s and the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, together with other acts of vandalism. In her letter she says:

22“A Colonel of the Federal Army has stated that you deprived forty of your officers of their commands because they refused to carry on your malignant mischief. All honor to their names for this, at least! They are men—they have human hearts and blush for such a commander!”

“I ask, who that does not wish infamy and disgrace attached to him forever would serve under you? Your name will stand on history’s page as the Hunter of weak women and innocent children; the Hunter to destroy defenceless villages and refined and beautiful homes, to torture afresh the agonized hearts of widows; the Hunter of Africa’s poor sons and daughters, to lure them on to ruin and death of soul and body; the Hunter with the relentless heart of a wild beast, the face of a fiend and the form of a man. Oh, Earth, behold the monster!”

“Can I say, ‘God, forgive you?’ No prayer can be offered for you! Were it possible for human lips to raise your name heavenward, angels would thrust the foul thing back again, and demons claim their own. The curses of thousands, the scorn of the manly and upright, and the hatred of the true and honorable, will follow you and yours through all time and brand your name with infamy!

“Again, I demand why you have burned my home? Answer, as you must answer before the ‘Searcher of all hearts,’ why have you added this cruel, wicked deed to your many crimes?”

Perhaps the best way to close this revolting chapter is by quoting from the report of a Select Committee of the Confederate Congress, consisting of one Senator from each of the thirteen States, and of which Senator C. C. Clay, of Alabama, was Chairman. The Committee was raised, under a resolution of the Senate, to collect and report evidences of the outrages committed by the enemy upon the persons and property of our citizens, in violation of the rules of civilized warfare and the rights of humanity. In their report they say:

“That they have received statements of wrongs, injuries and outrages committed by the enemy in only four States of the Confederacy—Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina and South Carolina—and that these embrace only a small part of what has been suffered by our citizens in these States. But those statements show that our invaders have been utterly regardless of every principle of lawful warfare, every precept of the Christian religion, and every sentiment of enlightened humanity. They have not spared even the memorials of our dead or suffer their remains to rest undisturbed. They have robbed many persons of relics of deceased parents, children or other relatives and friends, which were invaluable to them and valueless to the robbers, merely to torture the souls of our citizens and satisfy their own mean and malevolent animosity. They have murdered peaceful and unoffending citizens, and have seized and taken many of them far from their families and homes, and incarcerated them in prisons of the United States. To others they offered the choice of a prison, or an oath of allegiance to the United States. They have rushed, by regiments, battalions or companies, into our villages and robbed, like banditti, both men and women, in their dwellings and on the streets, of money, watches and other jewelry. Their soldiers have indulged their brutal passions upon women, sometimes in open day and public places, with impunity, if not by license of their officers. They have not spared either age, sex or calling. 23Even those unfortunates whom the mysterious providence of God has bereft of reason, or of the faculty of speech, or the sense of sight or hearing, have not escaped the demoniacal wrath of our enemies.

“In conclusion the committee feel warranted in saying that the conduct of the war, on the part of our enemies, has not exhibited the moderation, the forbearance, the chivalrous courtesy, the magnanimity or Christian charity which the spirit of the age demands, and which the practice of civilized nations for several centuries last past has generally illustrated. It has been a war against property, both public and private; against both sexes and against all classes of society; against the political, moral and religious sentiment of our people; against their honor and their public affection; against what has hitherto been deemed sacred, inoffensive and exempt from hostility by all civilized nations. It has been conducted so as to insult while they injured, to exhibit towards us contempt as well as hatred. It has been waged as if they wished never to have had peace with us, or expected us never to hold in future any equality with them. Its prospective policy has not been to restore the Union, or to have any future commerce or intercourse with us as independent or friendly States. They disdain to conciliate, and design to subjugate or exterminate our people.”

The Confederate States Congress adopted in December, 1863, an address to the people, in which the objects of the war and the manner of conducting it were set forth. The Committee say:

“Accompanied by every act of cruelty and rapine, the conduct of the enemy has been destitute of that forbearance and magnanimity which civilization and Christianity have introduced to mitigate the asperities of war. Houses are pillaged and burned, churches are defaced, towns are ransacked, clothing of women and infants is stripped from their persons, jewelry and mementoes of the dead are stolen, mills and implements of agriculture are destroyed, private salt works are broken up, the introduction of medicines is forbidden, means of subsistence are wantonly wasted to produce beggary, prisoners are returned with contagious diseases, the last morsel of food has been taken from families who were not allowed to carry on a trade or branch of industry; a rigid and offensive espionage has been introduced to ferret out disloyalty; persons have been forced to choose between starvation of helpless children and taking the oath of allegiance to a hated Government; the cartel for exchange of prisoners has been suspended, and our unfortunate soldiers subjected to the grossest indignities; the wounded at Gettysburg were deprived of their nurses, and inhumanly left to perish on the field; helpless women have been exposed to the most cruel outrages and to that dishonor which is infinitely worse than death; citizens have been murdered by the Butlers and McNeils and Milroys, who are favorite generals of our enemies; refined and delicate ladies have been seized, bound with cords, imprisoned, guarded by negroes, and held as hostages for the return of recaptured slaves; unoffending non-combatants have been banished or dragged from their quiet homes, to be immured in filthy jails; preaching the Gospel has been refused, except on condition of taking the oath of allegiance; parents have been forbidden to name their children in honor of ‘Rebel’ chiefs; property has been confiscated; military Governors have been appointed for States, satraps for provinces, and Haynaus for cities.

Well can we understand the burning lines of S. Teakle Wallis:

24“From the far-off conquered cities
Comes the voice of a stifled wail,
And the shrieks and moans of the houseless
Ring out, like a dirge, on the gale!
“I’ve seen, from the smoking village,
Our mothers and daughters fly!
I’ve seen, where the little children
Sank down in the furrows, to die!
“On the banks of the battle-stained river
I stood, as the moonlight shone,
And it glared on the face of my brother,
As the sad wave swept him on!
“Where my home was glad, are ashes,
And horror and shame had been there;
For I found, on the fallen lintel,
This tress of my wife’s torn hair!
“With halter, and torch, and Bible,
And hymns, to the sound of the drum,
They preach the gospel of murder,
And pray for lust’s kingdom to come!”

The reports of the Confederate Committees were made long before the blackest hours of the Confederacy—long before the “march to the sea.” There is far more behind; more than can ever be told. Far be it from any of us to indict a whole people, or condemn every Northern soldier. There were, indeed, shining instances of kindness and even gentleness. But the incongruous character of the elements of which the Northern army was composed must be taken into account. It was not, perhaps, reasonable to expect that they would behave in the South as the Confederate army behaved in Pennsylvania. Doubtless the officers of the Northern army, and many of the men as well, are heartily ashamed of the conduct of their comrades. But this will not, and cannot, alter the fact. This fact it is indispensable to mention. Some hint of the atrocities of the blackguards and bullies in uniform must be given, or the record of “Our Women in the War” will be partial and incomplete.

But if there were any doubt as to the power and influence of the women of the Confederacy, that doubt would be set at rest by the full and honorable recognition they received at the hands of the victorious enemy. Long after Lee and Johnston and Kirby Smith had surrendered, officers in the uniform of the United States Army were engaged in seeking out and paroling the women in every city and town and hamlet in the South.

The Government did not feel safe until the mothers and daughters and wives of the Confederate soldiers had taken the oath of 25allegiance, along with the rest of the devoted army that had fought the North for four years. How to reach them in their strongholds, their homes, was the first question, but it was soon solved. Communication with absent loved ones, by mail or express, was cut off, and a woman or girl, of military age, was not allowed to take a letter out of the post office until she had sworn to cease the struggle so far as she was individually concerned. In other cases, where the family supplies had been taken for the use of the Federal soldiers, or had been wantonly destroyed, the alternative was presented of seeing their little ones suffer from hunger or of themselves accepting the hated obligation as a condition precedent to obtaining food for them. It is not necessary to go far for the proof of this assertion. With incredible blindness of perception—in almost providential ignorance of the damning character of his work—a Northern artist, the sculptor Rodgers, seized upon this novel feature of the situation, when peace had been declared, and has perpetuated in one of his familiar household groups the fact of the administration of the oath by a Federal officer to a Southern woman—the barrel of Government provisions, the empty basket, and leering negro boy, enjoying the humiliation of his mistress, constituting the remaining elements of the picture.

There is high satisfaction in the knowledge that the soldiers and statesmen of the South were not unmindful of the services of the Southern women, and freely gave expression to their appreciation of their myriad acts of devotion. In the breast of every Confederate soldier there was a feeling of gratitude which grew more intense from campaign to campaign, and that can never be effaced. Nor was official recognition ever wanting.

The Provisional Congress of the Confederate States placed on record the thanks of the country to the women of the South for their works of patriotism and public charity, and declared that the Government owed them “a public acknowledgment of their faithfulness in the glorious work of effecting our independence.”

President Davis in his message to Congress in January, 1863, spoke of “our noble and devoted women, without whose sublime sacrifices our success would have been impossible.”

Stonewall Jackson, the right arm of Lee, in a letter written in 1862 to Mrs. Mary Tucker Magill, said: “Be assured that I feel a deep and abiding interest in our female soldiers. They are patriots in the truest sense of the word, and I more than admire them.”

Indeed, the narrative of the behavior of the Southern women is an integral part of the history of the war itself, and, whenever it shall be worthily written, will form its most touching and inspiring chapter.

26George Cary Eggleston, in “A Rebel’s Recollections,” which was published some years ago, gives an admirable exposition of the constancy of our women. “They could hardly,” he says, “have been more desperately in earnest than their husbands and brothers and sons were in the prosecution of the war, but with their woman-natures they gave themselves wholly to the cause, and, having loved it heartily when it gave promise of a sturdy life, they almost worship it now that they have strewn its bier with funeral flowers. To doubt its righteousness, or to falter in their loyalty to it while it lived, would have been treason and infidelity; to do the like now that it is dead would be to them little less than sacrilege. * * * When they lost a husband, or son, or a brother, they held the loss as only an additional reason for faithful adherence to the cause. Having made such a sacrifice to that which was almost a religion to them, they had, if possible, less thought than ever of proving unfaithful to it. * * But if the cheerfulness of the women during the war was remarkable, what shall we say of the way in which they met its final failure, and the poverty that came with it? The end of the war completed the ruin which its progress had wrought. * * * * * Everybody was poor except the speculators who had fattened upon the necessities of the women and children; and so poverty was essential to anything like good repute. The want of means became a jest, and nobody mourned over it, while all were laboring to repair their wasted fortunes as they best could. And all this was due to the unconquerable cheerfulness of the Southern women. The men came home moody, worn out, discouraged, and but for the influence of woman’s cheerfulness the Southern States might have fallen into a lethargy from which they could not have recovered for generations. Such prosperity as they have since achieved is largely due to the courage and spirit of their noble women.”

Permit me now to say a few words concerning the part played by Marylanders, and particularly by Baltimoreans, in the war between the States. It is a subject on which every “Old Rebel” delights to dwell. It makes your fair city inconceivably dear to the peoples of what were the Confederate States.

Of the gallant soldiers you gave to the Southern Confederacy—who, as their historian tells us, “struck the first blow in Baltimore and the last in Virginia”—it is sufficient to say, in the words of Mr. Davis, that “the world will accord to them peculiar credit, as it has always done to those who leave their hearthstones to fight for principle in the land of others.” Assuredly the names of Elzey, of Ridgeley Brown, of Gilmore, of Dorsey, of Winder, of Archer, of Herbert, of Johnson, are gladly kept in glorious remembrance, as is the name of every Marylander, officer or private, who, under the Stars and Bars, helped to give us victory and shared with us defeat.

27To them, and of them, can well be spoken such words as Shakespeare’s Harry said on the eve of the battle of Agincourt:

He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand on tip-toe when this day is nam’d.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly, on the vigil, feast his neighbors:
Then will he strip his sleeve, and show his scars,
And say, These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.
Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be, in their flowing cups, freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we, in it, shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Here to-night is a Marylander whom I may mention for the reason that, while in command of the Maryland Line, in 1864, he led a small squadron of men in pursuit of a brigade of Kilpatrick’s cavalry, and, when attacked in the rear by a column outnumbering his force by seven to one, turned upon the enemy and brought off twice as many prisoners as the number of men in his own command, besides inflicting a severe loss in killed and wounded. Well may it be written that “no exploit of the war, on either side, exceeds this for skill, daring and cold courage.” In token of admiration of his services, Gen. Wade Hampton, of South Carolina, presented to Gen. Bradley T. Johnson, the hero of the day, a sabre, which was the fellow of that which he had worn and used himself, on many a hard-fought field. Later still, Gen. Lee fitly described Gen. Johnson as “bold and intelligent, ardent and true.”

There was another—the beau-ideal of gentleness and bravery. Though almost a stranger, he cared for me day after day with exquisite patience and gentleness, during the disability caused by a wound I received at Mechanicsville. It was easy, indeed, to love him, for he had the simplicity of the child, the faithfulness of the woman, the chivalrous valor of the knight of old. On the field at Gettysburg he poured out for us his blood. He is in my thought of thoughts to-night—William H. Murray, of Company A, 2d Maryland regiment, who is well described as “the most gallant spirit that fought and died for the South.”

Far harder would have been the lot of the Maryland soldiers, far more difficult would it have been for them to enter into the service, if they had not the active assistance of our Southern women. The 28Maryland Line, as you know, was organized in May, 1861, for the special purpose of representing our State in the Confederate army. It had, therefore, no State to look to for arms or clothing. Virginia had not arms enough for her own necessities, and there was danger that the Maryland battalion would be disbanded, because of the impossibility of procuring arms. In this exigency Mrs. Bradley T. Johnson volunteered to go to North Carolina, her native State, and there appeal to her countrymen for assistance. The journey was difficult, but she made her way to Raleigh, N. C., and obtained from Governor Ellis 500 Mississippi rifles, with ten thousand cartridges and necessary equipment. In Richmond Mrs. Johnson procured a supply of blankets and camp equipage, and ordered that a number of tents be made at once. On June 3, 1861, ten days after she left camp on her difficult mission, she delivered to her gallant husband the results of her enterprise. The historian justly says that the following receipt of the Chief of Ordnance of Stonewall Jackson’s command has probably no parallel in the history of war:

“Received, Ordnance Department, Harper’s Ferry, June 3, 1861, of Mrs. B. T. Johnson, five hundred Mississippi rifles, (cal. 54,) ten thousand cartridges and thirty-five hundred caps.”

The Maryland Line adopted resolutions thanking Mrs. Johnson “for her earnest, patriotic and successful efforts in arming and equipping the command,” and pledging themselves, “that the arms she has obtained shall, at the close of the war, be returned to the State of North Carolina without stain or dishonor.” The arms were not so returned, unless some Federal officer has generously undertaken to fulfil the pledge. In this “era of good feeling” it would not be out of place. But certain it is that these arms, wherever they now may be, were borne in honor and surrendered without discredit.

The astonishing facility with which Mrs. Johnson effected what had appeared to be almost an impossibility can be accounted for. The daughter of the Hon. R. M. Sanders, of North Carolina, she enjoyed the benefit of the respect in which her distinguished father was held. The graces of person and qualities of mind which were her just inheritance, gave the power to accomplish an enterprise which required the “daring gallantry of a man, with the persuasive power and perseverance of a woman.” There is revolutionary blood in her veins. It is no new thing for those of her line to be classed with patriots who are stigmatized as Rebels. The grandfather of Mrs. Bradley T. Johnson was William Johnson, of South Carolina, who was Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1801 to 1836, and her great grandmother, Sarah Johnson, was the wife of William Johnson, a conspicuous patriot in Charleston in the Revolutionary war. When the city was occupied by the British in 1781, Sarah Johnson concealed cartridges, 29and other ammunition, in her petticoats, and so carried to the patriots beyond the lines the means of continuing the fight. So Mrs. Johnson emulated, in our civil war, the deeds of those of her lineage in the conflict which gave independence to what were then the “free, sovereign and independent States.”

Whilst Mrs. Johnson was in Raleigh, N. C., in quest of arms, an address was delivered by the hon. Kenneth Raynor, who aptly said:

“If great events produce great men, so in the scene before us we have proof that great events produce great women. It was one that partook more of the romance than of the realities of life. One of our own daughters, raised in the lap of luxury, blessed with the enjoyment of all the elements of luxury and ease, had quit her peaceful home, followed her husband to the camp, and leaving him in that camp, has come to the home of her childhood to seek aid for him and his comrades—not because he is her husband, but because he is fighting the battles of his country against a tyrant”

So was it, it may be added, of all Southern women. Their love for those who were near to them was intensified and multiplied by the knowledge that they were fighting, as their ancestors had fought, to preserve and maintain such freedom as had been won some eighty years before.

It was moreover a Baltimore woman who gave to the South the one great lyric of the war. Written by James R. Randall, of Maryland, it was, in a moment of inspiration, set to the air of an old college song, and thus was the undying music “married to immortal verse.” Mrs. Hetty Cary Martin kindly consents to tell the story:

“After our bridges were burnt by Baltimore militia to prevent the passage of Northern troops, one of the regiments, formed mainly of young men of social prominence here, was disbanded. The men went South in dead of night with only the clothes they wore.

“It soon became known among our friends that boxes of clothing were to be sent to them from our house. Daily and nightly meetings were held there in defiance of the vigilance of the authorities, whose frequent searchings of the house made it known in the papers as ‘Headquarters of Rebeldom.’ Fingers and machines were ceaselessly at work; subscriptions came freely in. On stormy nights boxes were packed and shipped from the stable in our rear. These were sent directly to Gen. Lee, who told me that he had himself seen to forwarding them to our boys. Danger and daring kept every heart on fire. The girls who worked and the boys who watched for a chance to slip through the lines to Dixie formed a glee club, and their enthusiasm found vent in such patriotic songs as could be written or adapted to suit their needs.

“One evening early in June my sister, Miss Jennie Cary, had charge of the programme, the club ‘meeting at our house. With a young girl’s eagerness to score a success, she resolved to secure some new and ardent expression of feelings, by this time wrought up to the point of explosion. In vain she searched through her stock of words and airs; nothing seemed intense enough to suit the occasion. 30Aroused by her tone of despair I came to the rescue, with the suggestion that she should adapt the words of ‘Maryland, my Maryland,’ which had been constantly on my lips since the appearance of the lyric a few days before in the Baltimore South. I produced the paper and began declaiming the verses. ‘Lauriger Horatius!’ she exclaimed, and in a flash the immortal song found voice in the stirring air so perfectly adapted to it.


“That night, when her voice rang out the stanzas, the refrain rolled forth from every throat present without pause or preparation, and the enthusiasm communicated itself with such effect to the crowd assembled beneath our open windows as to endanger seriously the liberties of the party.

“A few weeks later it had become impossible to forward the supplies, of which we had still on hand several large trunksful.

“My brother was about to leave for the army and I concluded to risk running the blockade with him, taking my sister also, to furnish more plausible excuse for leaving Baltimore with a very undue amount of luggage.

“With some difficulty and not a little danger, our party was finally landed in dead of night on Virginia shores. My sister and I kept guard over the trunks while my brother scoured the vicinity in search of a conveyance to Stratford, a few miles distant from our point of landing, and the birthplace of our friend and kinsman, Gen. R. E. Lee.

“An old hay wagon, drawn by a very large ox and a very small mule (guided by ropes and goaded with a hickory pole) was finally secured, and in this striking conveyance we made our triumphal entry into the Confederate States.

“Up to this time I had worn on my person a flag bearing the Maryland coat of arms, and presented by Baltimore women to the Maryland troops in the Southern army. In addition to the discomfort of this unwonted article of apparel, I had suffered no small amount of anxiety lest the paint, which was quite fresh, should sustain some injury, therefore gladly shook its folds to the breeze the moment we were safe in Dixie.


“My brother cut a pole, we raised the banner aloft, and, perched upon our trunks, jolted up and down hill to Stratford in the early dawn of that fair 4th of July, making the Virginia woods ring with ‘Maryland, my Maryland!’

“The story of our adventures soon reached home; the ‘aid and comfort’ given to the enemy were greatly magnified, and my family received notification from Washington that we should not be permitted to return.

“We were living in Virginia in exile, when, soon after Manassas, Gen. Beauregard, hearing of our work and sufferings for the Marylanders, who had already done such gallant service in his command, invited us to visit them at his headquarters, near Fairfax Courthouse. The fortifications there were in charge of my cousin, Capt. Sterrett, (U. S. N.,) who received and entertained our party during the visit.


“The night of our arrival we were serenaded by the band of the famous Washington Artillery of New Orleans and all the fine voices 31within reach. Capt. Sterrett expressed our thanks, and asked if there were any service we might render in return. ‘Let us hear a woman’s voice!’ was the cry which arose in response—and standing in a tent door, under cover of the darkness, my sister sang, ‘Maryland, my Maryland.’

“This was, I believe, the birth of the song in the army. The refrain was speedily caught up and tossed back to us from hundreds of rebel throats. As the last notes died away there surged forth from the gathering throng a wild shout: ‘We will break her chains! We will set her free! She shall be free! Three cheers and a tiger for Maryland!’ And they were given with a will.

“There was not a dry eye in our tent, and they told us next day not a cap with a rim on it in camp.

“Nothing could have kept Mr. Randall’s verses from living and growing into a power. To us fell the happy chance of first giving them voice. In a few weeks ‘My Maryland’ had found its way to the heart of the whole people and become a great National song.”

The flag which is mentioned by Mrs. Martin is the regimental flag of the Maryland Line, and was afterwards decorated with a buck-tail captured from the Pennsylvania regiment of that name. Gen. Ewell issued an order complimenting the command, and granting it that badge of honor, which was borne to the end. The flag which went into “Dixie” with the war-song, it was never captured, never surrendered. It waves here to-night, tattered and battle-stained, the inspiring emblem and memorial of heroic deeds without number.

The history of the Maryland regiments is familiar to you, as well as the history of other commands composed of Marylanders who served in the Army of Northern Virginia. It has, however, come to my knowledge within the last week or two that a company of Marylanders served in South Carolina as early as March, 1861, taking part in the bombardment of Fort Sumter. They composed Company C of Lucas’s battalion of artillery, and were in the thick of the fighting until the surrender of Johnson’s army in 1865. In the defence of Battery Wagner, on Morris Island, the command lost heavily. Among the Marylanders who fell were Baker, Tucker, Flanigan, Brass and Marty. Fifteen or twenty of the old members of the company are still in Baltimore, it is said. Mayhap, some of them honor this association with their presence to-night. The subjoined letter from the commanding officer of the battalion to which they belonged will tell you what is thought of them in South Carolina and by South Carolinians:

Society Hill, S. C., Jan. 22, 1887.
Capt. F. W. Dawson, Charleston, S. C.:

My Dear Sir—It gives me very great pleasure to testify that Company “C” was composed of as brave and fearless soldiers as fought for constitutional government under the “Stars and Bars”—in my opinion. The following is its brief military history:

Early in 1861 recruiting officers were sent to Baltimore to enlist 32recruits for three years to serve in the regular army of the Confederate States. Two companies were enlisted and placed under the command of Capts. Lee and Childs. Capt. Lee (Stephen D.) rose to the rank of lieutenant-general, and Capt. Childs to that of colonel. Col. Childs is now an officer at the Customhouse in your city. I found Capt. Lee’s company on Cole’s Island when I took command of the Stono fortifications on 10th July, 1861.

On the 10th November, 1862, these two companies were consolidated and attached to Lucas’s battalion heavy artillery, C.S.A., under Capt. Theodore B. Hayne, and known thereafter as Company “C.” The company participated in the capture of the gunboat Isaac P. Smith on the 30th January, 1863, in the defence of Battery Wagner and Fort Sumter, and of Battery Pringle on the Stono. The attack on the last named fortification lasted ten days and nights, viz: from July 2 to 12, 1864. The attack was made by the monitors Lehigh and Montauk, assisted by the gunboats Pawnee, McDonough and Racer, and a mortar boat. In all these engagements Company “C” did its whole duty. Should the defence of Charleston ever be written, Company “C” will be entitled to a prominent place in the narrative of that heroic struggle.

Charleston was evacuated on the 17th of February, 1865, and my battalion, armed with Springfield muskets, participated in the battles of Averysboro’ and Bentonville, N.C., on the 16th and 19th of March. I was wounded at Bentonville and sent to the hospital at Raleigh, so saw no more of Company “C” or my command. Before my wound healed the contest was over, and the right of might established.

The members of Company “C” enjoy the distinction of being the only Confederate regulars, so far as I am informed.

Charles E. Rodman, who died at the Roper Hospital in 1883, was a member of this company. A shell passed near his spine at Battery Wagner, and he lived for twenty years in a paralyzed condition. He acquired, I am told, a good classical education. I saw him whenever I visited Charleston and witnessed his fortitude. He never betrayed any impatience with his condition, and was a hero to the end.

Edward Terry, of this company, was a son of the Chevalier de Terri, of the French army. He enlisted in Baltimore and served bravely with his company until killed.

At the close of the war the officers were Capt. Theodore B. Hayne and Lieuts. W. W. Revely, of Virginia, Frank C. Lucas and Langdon Bowie, Jr.

I would like to be present on the 22d prox. and hear your address, even though it might stir up the old Rebel feeling! Wishing for you that success, in all your undertakings, which you so well merit, believe me to be

Yours most truly,
Late Major com’g Lucas’s Battalion, Heavy Art’y, C. S. A.

There were two regiments of South Carolina regulars, and other States may have had similar commands, as distinguished from the volunteers and others who afterwards constituted the Provisional army of the Confederate States. But the only body of Confederate States regulars of which I have the record is that which was raised in Baltimore, and which covered itself with distinction in some of the toughest fights of the war.

33But it was not only in giving soldiers to the Confederacy that Baltimore was distinguished. Beyond all else it is memorable for the persecution to which those who sympathized with the South were subjected. In a letter written from Baltimore, and published in Quebec, there is a scathing account of the conduct of the Federal officers in your dear city. It was reproduced afterwards in Marginalia, which was published in Columbia in 1864. The writer of the letter says:

“The horrors practiced by the Lincoln Government upon the people of that beautiful and refined city, Baltimore, have earned for it the name of the Warsaw of America.

“Men alone are not the only victims of the accursed tyranny, but even ladies of rank are similarly situated, their crimes being receiving letters from absent husbands and fathers, or wearing red and white ribbons on dresses, or having given charity to the widow or orphan of some one who died in the Southern army. Against the men no charges are made, and the only warrant on which they are held is that their names are inscribed by Mr. Lincoln, or Mr. Seward, upon a list in the hands of a convicted murderer and burglar.”

“The prime executioner and minister to the vengeance of Lincoln and Seward is of the most abhorrent stamp, and has inaugurated their reign of terror in Baltimore only as such a wretch could conceive it. This man is a pardoned convict, who, after receiving sentence of death for murder and burglary, and having been known to have committed six assassinations, was released from prison and made a jailer, but was dismissed for misconduct. The ruffian has daily interviews with the President, and returns from Washington with a fresh list of proscribed victims. Berret takes with him several escaped thieves, his former pals, and, accompanied by a file of soldiers, goes forth after midnight to do the bidding of the best and freest Government in the world, by breaking into the houses of their victims, dragging them from their beds, and thrusting them, handcuffed, into the cells of Fortress McHenry. Gen. Howard, an old gentleman, the candidate for Governor, and his son, Mr. F. Howard, were taken from their beds, and from the sides of their wives, between 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning, by Berret and a file of soldiers, who wounded with their bayonets Mr. F. Howard’s little son, six years old, and so ill-treated Mrs. Howard that she died on the Sunday following. Mr. Lincoln thought she was served too well, and declared that, the wives and brats of traitors deserved to be threaded upon red-hot jack chains. To the suffering children and wives of his victims he replies to their request to be permitted to see their parents with a refusal couched in obscene and brutal language, or with some filthy jest that could not be put upon paper. Berret, upon Seward’s order, broke into the mansion of a lady of rank, whose husband is in Europe, and, with his file of soldiers, pulled her from her bed, without permitting her to dress, or even putting on her shoes; the fellow forced her to go with him from the attic to the cellar in her night-gown, whilst he tore up the carpet, forced the doors and cut to pieces the beds, mattresses, brocaded chairs, sofas, &c., and turned out every trunk and drawer, leaving the beautiful residence a total wreck. No reason has been assigned for this outrage, except that his patron, the President, willed it. On the following night the house of a venerable gentleman was forcibly entered and every bed cut to pieces; his three daughters were pulled out of their beds and subjected to brutal indelicacies the heart sickens 34at. The following morning the colonel of these honorable and gallant defenders of their country, named Wilson, was taken into custody for various robberies, the property having been found in his shop in Brooklyn, New York.

“Mr. Faulkner, the late minister from the United States to France, has been imprisoned in a common felon’s cell, without even straw to lie upon, leaving his three motherless and unprotected daughters in a hotel, Mr. Lincoln refusing him permission to send a message to them, and [his guards] robbing him of all the money he had with him. Lincoln, when told of the grief of the young ladies, and that their dresses were wet with tears, ridiculed it and made filthy and obscene jokes at their expense. Mr. Wallis, president of the Senate, a man of refined mind, elegantly educated, who held his large fortune as a trust for every good and benevolent purpose, whose eloquence and high talent vied with his goodness and his virtues, has been consigned to a narrow cell with six other gentlemen, without the commonest convenience that the poorest beggar can command—torn from his wife and family while suffering from severe sickness, without a change of linen, and robbed of all his money.

“Mr. Ross Winans, nearly eighty years of age, was taken from his splendid mansion in the middle of the night, and for a second time consigned to a cell. This time his crime was giving food daily to twenty-five hundred poor people. His last release from prison cost him fifty thousand dollars in bribes. Mrs. Davis, a lady of large fortune, had fed nearly one thousand poor daily. Mr. Seward commanded her to desist from doing so; she refused, and published his command and her letter of refusal. The paper that published it has been suppressed, the materials of the office carried off and the editor imprisoned.”

Is not this enough? Well may your historian declare that the remembrance of “the insults, wrongs and outrages that were daily and hourly committed upon the people of this State,” still “rouses indignation too hot for the calmness of impartial history.” Without any bidding of mine you still remember the petty tyranny and devilish outrages of Schenck and Fish and Wallace. You remember, too, the cells of Fort McHenry. You remember the dungeons of Fort Lafayette and Fort Warren. You remember the insults to your wives and daughters. You remember the arrests, the midnight searches of your homes. Why should you forget it! There is nowhere in the obligations of present citizenship any obligation to consign to charitable oblivion the deeds which stain ineffaceably the reputation of those who committed them, and which stain still more darkly the reputation of those, in high authority, by whom the shame and sin were conceived and directed!

But the women of Baltimore had their revenge, and sweet, indeed, it was. The more they were harassed and harried by spies and informers, by sneaks in plain attire, and bullies with sash and sabre, the more ardent and indomitable were they in ministering to the needs of the Southern soldiers.

There was no break or pause. The women of Baltimore were untiring in relieving the wants of the Confederates who fell into the enemy’s hands, as they were indefatigable in sending through the 35lines the clothing and medicines of which our boys in the field were painfully in need. The Sultan of romance caused the tale or jest that refreshed his jaded sense to be written in letters of gold and placed in the archives of his kingdom. How shall be recorded fitly—save in the undying love and gratitude of generations of those who bless you, and hold you in honor ineffable—the deeds of those gentle shrinking women who, in our behoof, were indomitable, invincible. They were mother and sister to the sick soldier who was weary of breath. They were angels of benediction to those who were on the brink of the dark-flowing river. Fragile as flowers, and as beautiful in their holiness, they were so inspired, so exalted, that it appeared a bagatelle to them to risk fortune, health and life itself in solace of the bruised and bleeding Confederates.

You should have—the South should have—the country should have, a day of commemoration of these women and their work. A waiting that, we can sanctify, with gratitude and devotion, the names of Mrs. B. C. Howard, Mrs. J. Hanson Thomas, Mrs. Peyton Harrison, Mrs. J. Harman Brown, Mrs. John S. Gittings, Mrs. Dora Hoffman, Mrs. Robert H. Carr, Mrs. D. Preston, Mrs. Lurman, Mrs. A. DuBois Egerton, and their associates in compassionate endeavor and merciful achievement.

It was my lot to be taken prisoner in 1862, the night after the battle of South Mountain. After a brief stay at Camp Curtin, near Harrisburg, I was lodged at Fort Delaware. The first persons to be seen in the Fort, excepting always the garrison, were citizens of Baltimore, who were confined there because they ventured to avow their convictions—because they dared to act and speak as freemen should. Among them was Mr. Carpenter, the editor of one of your newspapers, which had been suppressed with Muscovitish promptitude, because it had criticised and condemned some of the minor deities of the Northern Government. What grace and help it gave us to meet those men of yours. There was but the exchange of a glance and hasty word in passing from one barrack-room to another. But we felt that we were not alone, though captives we were. Only a day or two afterwards bales of blankets and clothing came from your city, from your women, to us in Delaware. They gave comfort and even health to many a dilapidated Confederate, for we had not dreamed of capture, and our supplies were meagre indeed. This was not all. Again and again, your superb women, in the pride of their conscience and the beauty of their budding years, came to the Fort and waited there hour after hour, in the trust that there might be some opportunity to bestow a word or a look on our poor boys in gray.

But time presses. Though I could speak of you for hours, you might not care to listen. It must, however, be recorded, that when 36all else was gone, when life was paralyzed, when hope was dead, you enlarged your sphere of nobility. Because the cause was lost there was new scope and verge for you. When all else failed—when the banner of the South was furled forever—you came forward to alleviate our grief in showing us that you were as true in defeat as in triumph, and that, for you, failure abated not a jot the merit, or the justice of the freedom for which we fought, nor lessened by a particle your interest in us, or your care for us. It seemed, indeed, that in our poverty, in the ashes of our homes and confronting a problem which was then insoluble and is not solved yet, we were dearer to you than in the pomp and pride of a struggle, which—if right were might—must have had the consummation we wished.

Immediately after the surrender at Appomattox, the Baltimore Agricultural Aid Society was formed by a number of your citizens, irrespective of party, to supply a portion of the Southern States, more particularly Virginia, with stock, farming-tools and seed. For this purpose over $80,000 were subscribed and judiciously distributed by local agents who understood the wants of their immediate neighborhoods. This noble charity was for the assistance of the people of the South “in their sorest need, without wounding their pride or insulting their poverty.”

In the spring of 1866 the ladies of Maryland organized the “Southern Relief Association,” with Mrs. B. C. Howard as president, and a strong array of vice-presidents and managers. To facilitate the objects of the association it was determined to hold a fair, which was opened on the 2d of April, 1866, in the Maryland Institute. It was continued until the 13th of the month, and at its close the net receipts were found to be $164,569.97, which was distributed through committees to the various Southern States.

In 1867 the Legislature also appropriated $100,000 “for the relief of the destitute people in the States wasted by civil war,” and appointed commissioners for its distribution. To this sum was added over $21,000 in money and goods, contributed by private individuals. As in many places the people were suffering for the want of food, the commissioners shipped large stores of provisions to various points in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, to be distributed by agents appointed by the Governor of those States. The Secretary of the Navy of the United States, the Hon. G. Welles, placed at their disposal the United States storeship Relief, by which a full cargo of corn and bacon was shipped to Mobile, Ala. The total amount distributed by the commissioners in supplies and money reached $106,623.65.

The Ladies’ Depository, No. 56, North Charles Street, Baltimore, was formed in 1867, for the purpose of uniting in organized effort 37those who were endeavoring to obtain needle and fancy work for the destitute ladies in the South, impoverished by the war. The first officers and managers were: President, Mrs. Peyton Harrison; vice-president, Mrs. J. H. B. Latrobe.

In addition to all this, there was a large number of contributions, of which not even an approximate estimate can be formed, made by individuals privately and sent through private channels. Nearly all hearts were touched and purses opened, and it has been estimated that the relief thus afforded fell but little short of that which was publicly given. All the railroads of Baltimore and the Bay steamers carried the contributions free of charge; no commission was charged for purchase or storage, and liberal deductions were made by the merchants from whom the supplies were obtained.

This is taken, in the main, from Scharf’s History of Baltimore City and County, and the record is approximately correct, no doubt, but how faint an idea it gives of the worth of your work in the cheer it gave, in the incentive to the struggling Confederates to begin life anew, and from the nettle defeat pluck the flower of safety.

Half a million dollars—cribbed and confined as you had been—was given to the South, after the war, by your Monumental City!

It is no affectation to say that words fail me as I strive to tell you what you were to us then, and what you will always be to every Confederate who is true as you were true, and is faithful as you are faithful. There is no page in the story of the war more brilliant, more inspiring, than that on which is blazoned the undying record of your incessant sacrifice, your patient endurance, your unselfish devotion.

Gen. Lee’s appreciation of the work of the women of Baltimore is well expressed in a letter dated May 3, 1866, and published in the “Personal Reminiscences of Gen. Robert E. Lee,” by Dr. J. W. Jones. After acknowledging the receipt of a gown presented to him by the ladies of the Northeastern branch, tables 40 and 42, at the late fair held in Baltimore, he says:

“I beg that you will express to them my grateful thanks for this mark of kindness, which I shall value most highly in remembrance of their munificent bounty bestowed on thousands of destitute women and children by the ‘Association for the Relief of Southern Sufferers,’ the fruits of which shall live long after those who have received it have mouldered into dust.”

In an earlier letter, dated December 15, 1865, he says:

“I am fully aware of the many and repeated acts of sympathy and relief bestowed by the generous citizens of Baltimore upon the people of the South, acts which will always be remembered, but which can never be repaid, and which will forever stand as monuments of their Christian charity and kindness. I know, too, that by their munificence they have brought loss and suffering on themselves, for which I trust God will reward them.”

38Bear with me yet a moment. The subject on which your association desired I should speak to-night is beyond the measure of mortal tongue or pen. Who will undertake to describe adequately the exploits of our men in the war, and what was their mighty accomplishment in comparison with the infinite emprise of our women! The men, the soldiers, were the strong right arm, the mighty body of the Southern Confederacy, as with spirit undaunted they trod, with bleeding feet, the way of the Southern Cross. But as the men were the body, so the women were the soul. The men may forget the uniform they wore—it is faded and moth-eaten to-day. But the soul, the spirit in our women incarnate, cannot die. It is unchangeable, indestructible and, under God’s providence, for our vindication and justification, shall live always—forever!


  1. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  2. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.