Sunday, May 5, 2013

“Our women gave their carpets to make blankets, their dresses to be made into shirts for the soldiers, and their linen to furnish lint for their wounds, and then, clad in home-spun, they gave themselves.”

The Reverend John Levi Underwood in his book, The Women of the Confederacy, published in 1906, gives testimony to Southern womanhood. He wrote of defiance when he recited two stories:

Union General Milroy had declared Marshal Law within his theater of operations restricting all movement of civilians from their homes. A local farmer, John Allen, had a milk cow that the family depended upon. His daughter, a spry 13 years old, went to see General Milroy to gain a pass to move the cow to pasture. General Milroy tartly replied, “I can’t do anything for you rebels and I will not let you pass. The rebellion has got to be crushed.” Little Miss Allen, not to be rebuffed, retorted, “Well, if you think you can crush the rebellion by starving John Allen’s cow, just crush away.”

In another instance he cited a note written by Sherman responding as to why he was making the wives and mothers of Confederate soldiers leave occupied Savannah, “You women are the toughest set I ever knew. The men would have given up long ago but for you. I believe you would keep this war up for thirty years.”

And perhaps it was a young Southern girl much like Chloe that inspired Underwood to write, “Gentle, but brave; modest, but independent. Seeking no recognition, the true Southern woman found it already won by her worth; courting no attention, at every turn it met her, to do willing homage to her native grace and genuine womanhood.”

So I have to say, thank you Shellman, and especially Chloe, for a moment of dreamtime. A dreamtime when the men and women of a new nation stood against a giant and suffered, as one, the humiliation of defeat. Though subjugated and with the banner furled, we must never forget.

Editor’s note: Ray Davidson is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at

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