Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research


This paper examines how hardships and food shortages shaped the experience of white Southern women and their support for the Civil War. Evidence is presented that shows these women did not receive adequate protection and food from the Confederate government; as a result, some women withdrew their support and stood up against the government in different ways depending on their class. The rebellious white women of the South are used as an example of what can happen when a government fails to care for the needs of its female population. The hardships these women faced are discussed and emphasis is placed on their food shortages. The general strength shown by many women who truly believed in the “Southern Cause” is given proper acknowledgment, but this is followed by the more surprising revelation of the Southern women who rebelled against the Confederacy. The poor, white women rebelled against the Confederate government by writing letters to their government, encouraging desertion, and raiding businesses. The elite white women disapproved of these actions, yet when their diaries are examined, a form of quiet rebellion can be observed. These upper-class women saw the desolation and suffering of the poor and questioned the war, and some attempted to withdraw their support while maintaining a public front of patriotism. The evidence presented shows how the Civil War can serve as a case study in the exploration of the limits of female patriotism.