Drawing from a wealth of poignant letters, diaries, slave narratives, and other accounts, Catherine Clinton provides a vivid social and cultural history of the diverse communities of Southern women during the Civil War: the heroic African-American women who struggled for freedom, the tireless nurses who faced gruesome duties, the intriguing handful who donned uniforms, and those brave women who spied and even died for the Confederacy.
Photographs, drawings, prints, and other period illustrations bring this buried chapter of Civil War history to life, taking the reader from the cotton fields to the hearthsides, from shrapnel-riddled mansions to slave cabins. Clinton places these women within the context of war, illuminating both legendary and anonymous women along the way.
Tracing oral traditions and Southern literature from Reconstruction through our era, the author demonstrates how a deadly mix of sentiment and fabrication perpetuates tales of idyllic plantations inhabited by benevolent masters and contented slaves. The book concludes with Clinton's perceptive and often witty discussion of how, over the years, we continue to embrace mythic figures like Scarlett and Mammy in aspects of popular culture ranging from Hollywood epics to pancake syrup.
Catherine Clinton, a research associate at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University, is the author of several books on the history of the South, including The Plantation Mistress; The Other Civil War; Portraits of American Women; Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War; and Half-Sisters of History: Southern Women and the American Past. She lives with her husband and two sons in Riverside, Connecticut.