Sarah A. G. Strickler

Strickler Family Papers, #5633 Fife Family Papers, #5633-F (photo)

Sarah A. G. Strickler, a Virginia school girl, notes in her diary (February 14-April 20, 1861) the impending war, the fall of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion. She urges Virginia's secession and rejoices when it joins the Confederacy: "Virginia used every honourable means to preserve this once glorious Union; but when she found her efforts in vain she silently & sadly withdrew from the tottering fabric & joined her destinies." Also displayed is a wartime photograph (carte-de-visite) of Sarah Strickler.

Adana Bocock Letter

Adana Bocock Letter, #11249

This May 11, 1864 letter of Adana Bocock in Fincastle, Virginia, describes life at an unidentified female academy. She proudly reports the students have made uniforms for a Confederate infantry company and organized themselves into a mock military company as "the Female Dare Devils." It is doubtful the "Dare Devils" ever saw combat.

Proof sheets, My Reminiscences of the War and Reconstruction

Thomas Pinckney Papers, #11112

An unknown number of Confederate women disguised themselves as men and served as soldiers. Among the proof sheets of his book My Reminiscences of the War and Reconstruction Thomas Pinckney, a member of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry captured during the war, describes his May 31, 1864 discovery that a fellow prisoner was actually a woman whom he later suspected was Barbara Ann Duravan of Tennessee. Her captors did not discover Duravan's gender until after her death in the Alton, Illinois penitentiary (used during the war to hold Confederate prisoners). They buried her in the Confederate Cemetery with her comrades.

Letter from Helen Thompson

Letters of Lt. William Elam, #10662-A

Florence, Alabama resident Helen Thompson volunteers to forward letters between prisoner of war Lt. William Elam (Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, where 3,000 Confederate officers were imprisoned) and Sallie Andrews of Tennessee. (August 24, no year.)

Patriotic envelope

Special Collections

Patriotic envelopes were used to boost morale and support the war effort; many depicted women and their special hardships as wives and mothers: "My only support-both boys gone to the war. I wonder if they would take me?"

Cornelia Phillips Spencer book

Spencer, Cornelia Phillips,The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina, New York: Watchman Publishing Company, 1866. 

Scholars have hailed this book as one of the best narratives ever published by a Confederate woman. Cornelia Spencer, an intelligent and observant eyewitness, summed up the war: "The benefits of the war in our State should not be overlooked in summing up even a slight record concerning it. It brought all classes nearer to each other. The rich and the poor met together. A common cause became a common bond of sympathy and kind feeling."