Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South
The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh realities of wartime crises, unintended consequences ensued. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own people-white women and slaves-and thereby sowed the seeds of their demise.
Wartime scarcity of food, labor, and soldiers tested the Confederate vision at every point and created domestic crises to match those found on the battlefields. Women and slaves became critical political actors as they contested government enlistment and tax and welfare policies, and struggled for their freedom. The attempt to repress a majority of its own population backfired on the Confederate States of America as the disenfranchised demanded to be counted and considered in the great struggle over slavery, emancipation, democracy, and nationhood. That Confederate struggle played out in a highly charged international arena.
The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders' state. Confederate Reckoning is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.
Remarkable as it might seem, many elite Confederate women saw their right to protection as an obligation that extended to enemy men. Nor were they wrong. Like many other Yankee officers in the occupied South, Kimball’s colonel was not only solicitous, recognizing her as a lady deserving of respect, he committed to protect her against the rougher sorts in his own army. In actions repeated all over the occupied and battle- 98 l c o n f e d e r a t e r e c k o n i n g ground areas of the.
Protected parties in relation to the Confederate state. Slave women were shut out of the possibilities or benefits inherent in that title, although when the Davis administration made its late decision to enlist slave men in the Confederate army, their “wives” would figure vaguely in discussions about what was owed to the slave soldier and his family.28 But until that point, Confederate soldiers’ wives were by definition white. Yet not all white women embraced the name. Elite women never.
War, their expectations and sense of legitimate authority and entitlements surely owed something to that recent ordeal. Before the war Southern citizens male or female had little experience of a big state. Their wartime introduction was fast and brutal. At the moment of secession there were few federal appointees of any kind in the interior of the Southern states; after the customs office and the post office, as Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens said in 1861, the loss of the.
Their women with no labor at all. But the women proved increasingly willing to fight their own battles. Empowered to make claims on the state, women left at home proved anything but reluctant to do so. Up from the farmsteads, workshops, settlements, country towns, and bursting Confederate cities came a tidal wave of protest and resistance, much of it emanating from, and organized by, women. The emergence of soldiers’ wives as a force in Confederate politics represented a significant.
For a meeting. Mrs. Weasley was among those who came up from the country for the meeting on Wednesday night and later said that she was then “authorized to come up the next day and bring a hatchet.”18 Jackson was a good organizer. More than three hundred women turned up for the meeting in the Belvidere Baptist Church on Oregon Hill on April 1 where the riot was planned. “All were women there except two boys,” a Mrs. Jamison explained. “The object of the meeting,” she told the court “was to.