Lucy Davis letter to her brother Eugene, 1861

Papers of Eugene Davis, #2483

During the Civil War, one of the tasks which Southern women took up for the Cause was to sew uniforms for soldiers. In this July 1861 letter from Lucy Davis to her brother Eugene at camp, she describes how busy the female members of the household were. "Miss Betty, her two handmaidens Evy & Susan (probably slaves), & myself have been at work on them (shirts) all day & have I think made quite a neat job. Mary Jane too was anxious to contribute her mite & hemmed the bottoms."

Printed solicitation, Lynchburg Hospital Association

Papers of the Irvine, Saunders, Davis and Watts Families, #38-33

Southern women organized within their communities to support the war effort and care for sick and wounded soldiers. This printed solicitation for food from the Lynchburg Hospital Association, one such organization of women, illustrates how women called upon the community to aid the Confederate Cause. The third paragraph also describes the many other activities women undertook, from going "daily to the Hospitals..." to "offer(ing) to write letters to the dear ones at home."

Letter from Mary J. Blackford to Mrs. Judge Saunders, 1862

Papers of the Irvine, Saunders, Davis and Watts Families, #38-33

The Lynchburg Hospital Association solicitation was enclosed in this August, 1862 letter from Mary J. Blackford to Mrs. Judge Saunders in which Blackford thanks Mrs. Saunders for her contribution of chickens to feed the soldiers. She explains that at the depository in Lynchburg, soldiers "use an average of five dollars worth of chickens daily." In addition to chickens, vegetables to pickle were also in high demand since "the soldiers are particularly fond of it."

Lucy Davis letter to her brother Eugene, 1862

Papers of Eugene Davis, #2483

In August of 1862, Lucy Davis was very much occupied with caring for sick and wounded Confederate soldiers in hospitals set up on the Lawn at the University of Virginia. In this letter to her brother Eugene at camp, she describes the horrors of a Confederate hospital. "Most of our immediate neighbours are getting on well but just across the lawn there are some of the worst cases & the sight & sounds we have to encounter daily are most distressing. I am mightily afraid we shall have some sort of infectious fever here for it is impossible to keep the place clean & there is a bad smell everywhere." Despite the conditions, she writes, "(t)hey say though that the patients are much more comfortable at this hospital than anywhere else. I should think the hospitals must be very uncomfortable indeed."

Louisa H. A. Minor's diary, 1862

Louisa H. A. Minor Diary, #10685

Hospital work allowed women to show their patriotism, help maintain soldiers' morale, and genuinely contributed to the Confederate war effort. Louisa H. A. Minor's diary for December 21-27, 1862 describes a Christmas dinner held at Charlottesville's Delevan Hospital for 1200 patients.

Senate Bill no.155

Confederate States of America. Congress. Senate. A bill to regulate the pay and allowances of certain female employees of the government. Richmond, January 5, 1865.

This measure established equitable wages and other compensations (including firewood and additional rations) for women employed in hospitals, and in the Quartermaster's Department and the Ordnance Department.

Scrapbook, Captain J.C. Featherston

Papers of the Irvine, Saunders, Davis, and Watts families, #38-33

This scrapbook of clippings about the Civil War was compiled by Captain J.C. Featherston of Alabama and later Lynchburg, Virginia. The displayed article describes the service of an Alabama woman, Mrs. Juliet Opie Hopkins, to the Confederacy. At the start of the war, Mrs. Hopkins sold her estates in New York, Virginia and Alabama and gave the proceeds to the Confederate government to establish hospitals for Confederate soldiers. She then went to Richmond to serve as chief matron of the hospital corps for Alabama. Mrs. Hopkins was even shot twice while attending to the wounded on the battlefield. Called the Florence Nightingale of the South, her picture appeared on Confederate currency from Alabama.

Daily Richmond Examiner, March 14, 1864: "City Intelligence--Terrible Laboratory Explosion Brown's Island--Between Forty and Fifty Persons Killed and Wounded--Horrible Scene." Throughout the war, women made the ultimate sacrifice for Confederate patriotism. This incident illustrates the dangers of their wartime industrial employment. The explosion occurred on March 13, 1863, killing thirty-five women and injuring thirty-one. The explosion horribly burned many victims beyond recognition.

Letters kept friends and families in touch as the men went off to war and many of the women moved South and West to avoid advancing Union troops. This portable writing desk, which probably pre-dates the Civil War by approximately 20 years, is an example of the sort of writing desk on which many wartime letters were written.

Papers of the Randolph Family, #10503