When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front

By Jacqueline Glass Campbell | Go to book overview

2 : ROCKING THE CRADLE OF SECESSION

On January 17, 1865, the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, housed a grand bazaar to raise funds for the Confederate cause. In a spirit that combined denial with arrogant confidence, a crowd of 3,800 jammed the halls. Leaving war cares at the door, people “jostled each other, laughed and made fun and forgot for the hour that the battle for home and fireside was soon to commence.”1 Banners covered the walls with slogans such as “Don't Give Up the Ship” and “Contribute to the Comfort of Our Sick and Wounded Soldiers.” Tables and booths were set up to represent each of the Confederate states, displaying such a variety of articles that it was difficult to imagine that a war was going on. At the same that a young girl bemoaned the fact that her family was living on meager meals of “a very small piece of meat, … a few potatoes … a dish of hominey and a pone of corn bread,” the tables at the bazaar groaned under the weight of “ducks, turkey, chickens [and] every kind of meat that could be found in the Confederacy.”2

The daily rhythm of life was often played to the beat of Sherman's drum, even for Southerners who would never encounter the dreaded general. Two decades after the war had ended, a Virginia lady wrote an account of how the progress of Sherman had affected her dinner table. Each morning the family read the newspapers. If the news was bad, she “ordered sorghum pudding, with a reckless amount of butter.” On the other hand, if things seemed hopeful she would “eschew sorghum pudding, in toto.” The reasoning behind this menu choice was perfectly logical. If the enemy threat was imminent, her family wished to eat all the delicacies it had. On the other hand, if the war was to continue indefinitely, “who could contemplate the dreariness of existence … without the sweet solace of sorghum?” In Richmond, these desserts were named “Sherman puddings.”3

-31-

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When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1: Savannah Has Gone Up the Spout 8
  • 2: Rocking the Cradle of Secession 31
  • 3: The Most Diabolical Act of All the Barbarous War 58
  • 4: God Save Us from the Retreating Friend and Advancing Foe 75
  • 5: With Grief, but Not with Shame 93
  • Epilogue 105
  • Notes 111
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 167
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