Discussion Who Grew the Confederacy's Wheat?

Joined
Jul 2, 2017
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681
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Georgia
#1
The Shenandoah Valley was of crucial importance to the Confederacy: it served as a highway for Confederate troops in their forays north, and as the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy," where a great deal of the South's wheat was grown. I'm curious to know just who the farmers in the Shenandoah Valley were. Did they mostly consist of smallholders, or did some of them manage to prosper? How many owned slaves, and how supportive were they of the institution and secession?
 

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Vicksburger

First Sergeant
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Dec 16, 2011
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Saint Joseph
#4
The Shenandoah Valley was of crucial importance to the Confederacy: it served as a highway for Confederate troops in their forays north, and as the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy," where a great deal of the South's wheat was grown. I'm curious to know just who the farmers in the Shenandoah Valley were. Did they mostly consist of smallholders, or did some of them manage to prosper? How many owned slaves, and how supportive were they of the institution and secession?
Very interesting question, I will be interested in the answer.
 
Joined
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#5
Wheat?

"Indian corn" or maize (Zea mays) appeared to be a real staple in the Southern diet... To the degree that vitamin deficiency/ malnourishment diseases like pellagra were not that uncommon.

Hominy, corn meal, corn pone, corn bread, corn "johnny cakes," or "hoe cakes" or grits or mush. Or "parched." Or on the cob.
Sorry for the imprecise language on my part, many more crops were grown in the Shenandoah besides wheat, including corn.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
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San Antonio, Texas
#6
Naw, that's OK. Not imprecise at all! The "imprecise term" as I'm sure you know, is that British English pretty much uses "corn" as a catch-all for any and all grain crop! This confuses we North Americans who think "corn='on the cob'" or "Indian corn."

I hope I did not derail your discussion thread about the Shenandoah Valley and its importance. Certainly, the place was first to suffer from "hard war" by W.T. Sherman, which may well support your thesis about it being something of a "bread basket." As you know, several stinging Federal defeats emerged from the Shenandoah, and so apparently that is why it was selected as a "laboratory" of sorts for the application of hard war versus the destruction of armies strategy for ending the rebellion...
 
Joined
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San Antonio, Texas
#7
Did the Shenandoah have much of a unionist contingent to speak of?
Certainly the Appalachian areas of West Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and even Northern Alabama did... Of course much of this was resistance to any state, be it the Federal Gov't. or the Secessionist rebel Gov't. making demands on resources, labor, food, etc. Resistance to conscription, forming "lay out" bands, etc. Of course there were also actual so-called "Tory" bands who sided with the Union over the CSA too.

Those hardscrabble poor white South'rons made some tough infantry, this is certain! Just look at the prodigious forced marches carried out by Secessionist rebel troops from that area, no?
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
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Mar 16, 2016
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#9
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Sir, zoomable PDF can be found here - https://etc.usf.edu/maps/pages/2800/2869/2869.pdf

Description: A map of the United States showing the value of manufactures (in millions) and distribution of staple agricultural products in 1860. The map illustrates the disparity between the manufacturing–based economy in the northern region and slave–dependent agricultural economy of the southern region just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The map is keyed to show areas of agricultural production for rice, corn, tobacco, wheat, sugar, and the principal economic crop of cotton. The map gives the annual value for production of wheat, corn, tobacco, cotton, and hay in 1860.

Of interest to me was that while cotton was the largest export of the time, corn had 2.6 times total value and wheat was 91% of the total value of cotton.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
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Mar 6, 2010
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Charlotte, NC
#10
Virginia was a major flour exporter before the war. Norfolk was a major exporter. The Winchester & Potomac RR shipped large amounts of flour from the mills just south of the Potomac River. During the winter of 1861-1862, that road shipped several hundred barrels of flour to Richmond. Additional shipments to Richmond from that area continued each time the Confederate Army held Winchester, even as late as 1864.

When in camp, the ANV ate soft bread daily until early 1864. Northrup had it baked daily in Richmond and shipped north daily. Corn was not the staple for the ANV until late 1864.

Wheat was grown in the upper Shenandoah throughout the war. It was also provided from central and western North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. Of course, the loss of Knoxville in the fall of 1863 stopped most of the eastern Tennessee source. The link below show the shipments of food on the Virginia & Tennessee RR eastward to the Richmond area.

http://csa-railroads.com/Virginia_and_Tennessee_Tonnage,_Eastbound_Food.htm
 



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