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Women and the Civl War

The purpose of this research is to examine the status of women who lived in the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee during the Civil War. The plan of the research will be to set forth the context in which the experience of women of that region was shaped by events in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and then to discuss, with reference to documents generated from the period, ways in which women were obliged to adapt to a situation in which men in their prime were essentially absent. There is compelling evidence that the experience and behavior of the women in this part of the country revealed more concern with local and family issues than with the grand designs of either the Union or the Confederacy. Their concerns, however, intersected with the military and political history of the age in sometimes unexpected ways.

Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina include the part of the Appalachian region known as the Great Smoky Mountains, which isolated settlers in the area from the customs and practices of the slave-holding South. A number of sources refer to the social effects of the region's geography. In his introduction to yeoman farmer Basil Armstrong Thomasson's diary, David Ward refers to the "hermeticism of the mountain hollows and Thomasson's hardscrabble day-to-day existence." The area was fertile and, though remote, accessible via rivers and roads. As a practical matter that meant that nineteenth-century settlers were able to devise modest agricultural industry and support a modest local market economy. They did not, however, adopt slavery to the same degree as the plantation-economy South.

Various sources refer to the relative isolation of this part of the Southern terrain from the rest of the Deep South. Mr. Whitelaw Reid, a Republican travel journalist from Ohio who toured the South after the Civil War, observes in his journal that people in the Knoxville, Tenn., region, "had not...

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Women and the Civl War. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:46, August 04, 2020, from