" Will The Rich Pause? " Women's History And Soldier's Wives Enduring It , 1861-1865

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JPK Huson 1863

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Image depicting war's commencement, LoC. Interesting, women as powerful figures in flowing robes surmounting men's varying agendas. On either side of these two fierce figures we see gold coins spilling at war's feet. War was big business- unless you were the part of the population footing those bills. Women were big bill payers when not standing on rocks, waving flags.

It's a seriously wonderful chance during Women's History Month commemorating our famous and trail blazing women. Because this is Civil War Talk, we focus on our women of the war and era, saying thank you for contributions too numerous to stuff into one month. Contributions were not always made willingly or considered noteworthy.

This month always, always makes me think of women whose names may be unknown but singularly and collectively impacted History because they lived it. All the What Happened to them is women's history, how we navigated those awful years was not always within our power to influence. Some was simply awful , as war rolled, literally and figuratively over our lives. North and South. It was a massive amount of History, sometimes lost. Sometimes, far from ball rooms and Demorest's three story estrogen fest on Broadway in NYC, they just endured or died. Because there was a war.

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Indiana, 1863. Conditions for soldier's wives struggling to feed children in the South were so abysmal the famous Bread Riots erupted. Women there were portrayed as unpatriotic, uncouth, dishonest thugs for forcing the issue with speculators. That's a whole, ' nother thread. It wasn't all horrific news. North Carolina sneered at anyone ungentlemanly enough to ignore their soldiers' families and fed them anyway.

A very famous story surfaced. Why there was such a tough time getting things like food- much less husband's pay check to wives while their husbands were away fighting remains a mystery. The man buying entire ships for the Union Navy was prosperous anyway and like thousands more made himself more so at government expense. This scandal erupted at the same time a wife's lifeless, bony body was found in a bare apartment, dead of starvation, her children alive but on the edge. They'd been clinging to their mother when a neighbor found the tragic group. Leslie's illustrated news publish artists sketches, the prosperous man at a formal dinner, those kids and a dead mother. A soldier's wife.

This is a different story. Unbelievable we can't keep track, it's typical- honest.
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It's a genuine story. Throwing doubt on these dishonors their gravity- and dismisses unwilling sacrifices.

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Yes, this was Union soldier's wife. First person to use it as a weapon in some ' Us v. Them ' argument eats bark for a month. Governments tend to not descry differences in poverty based on longitude/latitude.

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Faux Christians, if creeds are an indication we had quite a few, piously attended church- reminds me of the time I had a choice whether or not to step over a sleeping homeless person on a grate or go into a Starbucks. It was quite full. And who needs coffee anyway. There are a ton more stories you have to read between your fingers, hands over your face. These are tragically common.

I'm sorry to post dreary threads- but it was dreary, war is dreary as is greed, compassionless drivel written about why the greedy require so much money there's none to spare and excusatory patriotism. Excusatory Christians may take the flourless cake. We were apparently chock full, and to the dreary, muddy brim of all of it. In examining our History, we girls had a center stage paying for this war. Without a foot light turned on.








After the first flush of patriotic zeal, community, collective efforts fizzled out, mostly. There were ridiculously awful stories. North and South, before anyone picks this up as agenda. You couldn't shame women into not objecting.
 

John Hartwell

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Terrible, tragic stories.

In some places, of course, relief was at hand. Massachusetts, for instance, had a State Aid program, whereby needy dependents of soldier or sailors could apply to their local communities for help. The state would reimburse the towns, usually at the rate of $7 per month (half a private's pay), with additional for each child in the household. The program was expanded to include disabled soldiers, and continued post-war, until Federal pensions became available. State Aid was still being paid into the 1890s.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Terrible, tragic stories.

In some places, of course, relief was at hand. Massachusetts, for instance, had a State Aid program, whereby needy dependents of soldier or sailors could apply to their local communities for help. The state would reimburse the towns, usually at the rate of $7 per month (half a private's pay), with additional for each child in the household. The program was expanded to include disabled soldiers, and continued post-war, until Federal pensions became available. State Aid was still being paid into the 1890s.

Good to know, thanks Jno! There had to have been public outcry- there's a lot in newspapers but had a tough time finding which states were responsive. Beyond North Carolina ( whose newspapers are hysterical, witching up a storm over states that didn't take care of wives and widows and children ), can't find much.

One of my favorite articles is from New York, I think? Or Philly? Rats, can't remember- citizens gathering where a landlord was evicting a soldier's wife and children. Quite a few men er, convinced the landlord it would be better for his health if he did not. And he was convinced.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Ah HA. I knew she was here in a thread somewhere. Mary Ann Kidney, first news story above. There was huge scandal and ( I think ) both Harper's and Lesie's jumped in- Harpers with pretty savage cartoon. A war contractor had just spent ( and of course made ) hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollar and his lavish lifestyle condemned.

It's a terrible story BUT it also illustrates how swiftly we small guys can call money and power mongers to account. They did.
 
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