Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
There isn't one, perfect image illustrating ' Women ' and ' The Civil War '. Winslow Homer's sketch of Union families fortunate enough to reunite symbolizes the end- to an awful war for women. All of us.
That will make sense in a moment. Hang on. Using forum time today to pull a thread, like a drawstring, around Ladies Tea. Back to threads tomorrow, swear.
Nurse's graves create a connect-the dot, outlining a map of the Civil War. Wives whose husbands never came home, soldier graves far away, more dots. Women displaced by war, refugees scattered like leaves whose names we'll never know, some died homeless, some found niches.
This was somehow associated with ' us ', ' our ' spirit, Columbia ( in the North ), already separated by yet another wall, the South was riddled with female images bursting with patriotic fervor, be sure.
Famous names; female soldiers, Vivandiere, generals' wives, spies, socialites, belles, freedom seekers, abolitionists, teachers and those two lonely women who married presidents.
All of us, mothers, daughters, wives, grandmothers and mostly, sisters- suffered an awful war. Been turning myself inside-out, intention being to present this war, and women's experiences in a way highlighting how very, very much we had in common. And how this commonality is a wonderful thing, drawing us together. All those dots are now graves creating a map of our country.
Books written on various women have been crazy. Mary Lincoln is typical although hardly singular- merely the most glaring example of how easily we turn on each other, frequently at some guy's behest. William Herndon, an embittered ex-law partner of Lincoln, savagely attacked Mary Lincoln. Today he'd be known as a stalker. She lost 3 children, had her murdered husband's brains in her lap, was rejected by the socialite wolf pack she grew up with, had Washington's female wolf pack snapping at her heels- and we're happy to see her go down like a wounded elk, too.
Using this because History has permitted this couple to be separated. Craziness, just because one is viewed a hero, the other turned into a fictional character. You just know somewhere was a photo of the two together ( not the photo shopped, Pinterest image ).
Mary Randolph Custis Lee, as revered as her husband? Hardly. Discovered 2 books on her, both slamming her housekeeping, child rearing, general slovenliness and one actually bemoans her unequal looks, compared to R.E. . Nice. Written by women. Nicer. Held the family together, lost a child, had sons captured, wounded, in harm's way, suffered a crippling illness ( my money is on R.A. or Lupus ) and was in fact as educated an elite belle as anyone could dream up.
She had already nearly died, pre-wedding, from a flare of the mysterious illness which eventually crippled her, and again, after this child was born. We just never hear of it. Only how unworthy she was, if anything. Mary Custis was a hugely interesting, talented, bright and tough woman.
Varina Davis? Is disallowed a real love story, hence marriage. Despite also being an accomplished, bright, capable woman of her era, her husband's former life strips hers of validity. Like so many, mourned a child, lost so much but remains a mere character, cold and witchy and gosh, with African American DNA toboot, like it was a taint?
Harriet Jacob's incredible, awful and unspeakable story is one everyone smitten by History should read, much less each woman. Passing down that level of strength to the next generation is a gift so valuable it is flatly incalculable, beyond what it tells us of where we were all those years ago.
How many trips did Harriet Tubman make, really? Of all women to quibble over, we pick our Harriet? Of all women to venerate, pick Harriet.
Had an entire thread shatter once over Sojourner Truth's ' story '. A man picked at her in a way we just, plain should not tolerate, as females. He pretty well called her a liar and fraud and did so nearly with impunity.
" Wolf Pack " because we do that. Men do not although benefit from our tendency to do so. Kate Chase Spaulding, poor thing, later went down herself. She was among the Washington elite, super socialite daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Treasury Sec. ( and a huge abolitionist- you'd have thunk Kate would have gotten some compassion somewhere in her makeup ) one of the group of women who turned a cold shoulder to Mary Todd Lincoln, snapping socialite teeth at her heels. But we do that. Don't we? When Kate's rotter of a husband ejected her from their social circle, anyone reach out? Goodness no.
Through this awful war, women had more in common that they had not. When ' push came to shove ', we shoved beautifully. We lost too many to count and sure cannot because names have vanished into Time. But. We owe all of them, to heck with dividers because we're common gender, for Heaven's sake, recognition. Nature's wolf packs are rooted in survival, ours in.... well, never have been clear on that point. Baffled by it albeit uninterested.
What has endless scope is our women's abilities to withstand events like this tsunami called war, in myriad ways. How marvelous of us to honor them, from positive perspectives, together.