Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Conveying her raw pain to us over the span of a century and a half, this mourning photo is evocative, if we allow it, of what ' War ' meant to thousands. Is she Southern? Northern? Does it matter? Her husband is dead. Neither side could be said to have placed importance on the welfare of families left decapitated by sacrifice. Until one state did.
North and South, war truncated families. The arrival of mail created so many new widows, one war ravaged town decreed wearing black, illegal. It was too depressing.
Neither government concerned itself much with supporting families who lost their breadwinner, whose sacrifice in uniform should have been acknowledged. While profiteers salted away cash, soldier's widows were evicted, starved ( the real thing ) if they lacked family support and were thrown into yet another wr- survival.
From an NC paper, local sentiment on the subject seems clear
In a cash and supply strapped South, government support for soldiers' families was instituted, then withdrawn. yes, I can source that, please do not make me. Only so many hours in a day. In the supply rich North, conditions were not better.
One state, North Carolina, typically came to the rescue. You have to love it, and I do. NC newspapers sneered at war profiteers and dismissed Davis's speech on the subject, through the famous Bread Riots, for instance. There was good reason- NC took care of them with Texas a runner-up. Through 1863, 1864 and 1865, the newspapers beat the drum off the battlefield.
Tough to find photos of poor women as widows, a mourning photo the last thing on her list of expenditures. This obviously well-off widow's stark expression must speak for all of them.
In order not to produce a lengthy thread, only a few snips. Easily found in era newspapers, this loyalty to soldiers' families is singular, North and South.
It was a ridiculously awful war, a time in which women sometimes turned to prostitution as a desperate means to feed their children. A famous case in the North highlighted their plight when a mother was discovered dead of starvation, her children nearly so. That these were children of soldiers, some fallen, was repulsive. One state took a public stand and stood by it.