“the suffering and the fortitude”

—Walt Whitman, Specimen days, 1882

Life at Home


[Edward M. Boykin], The boys and girls stories of the war. Richmond, Va.: West & Johnston, [1863]
Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History (A 1863 .B69)

This chapbook, published anonymously but attributed to South Carolinian Edward M. Boykin, was an early attempt to tell the war’s story to Southern children. The text consists largely of anecdotes about Stonewall Jackson in the Valley of Virginia, which the author describes as a “dear, sweet place before the Yankees came to burn and rob.”

Norfolk Opera House! Friday, Nov. 6th, 1863. Saturnalia!! In compliment to the Sisters Webb, Maj. Gen. Foster, Brig. Gen. Barnes ... and other distinguished personages will attend the Theatre this evening. [Norfolk, Va. :Norfolk Opera House,1863]
(Broadside 1863 .N674)

A number of theatrical offerings provided those at home with some diversion from the war. This playbill announces a series of musical entertainments in Norfolk, Va., during the Union occupation. New Orleans-born Emma and Ada Webb made their acting debuts in New York in 1860. While they continued to appear on the New York stage during the war, they also toured—performing in Baltimore in June 1863, in Norfolk for the performance advertised here, and in Union-occupied Nashville in December 1864.


Article about bread riots in Richmond from Daily Richmond examiner. Richmond, Va.: William Lloyd & Co., 4 April 1863.
(Newspaper Virginia Richmond)

“Sowing and Reaping,” from Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper. New York: F. Leslie, 23 May 1863.
(AP2 .L42)

In the spring of 1863, food shortages led to bread riots in Richmond and other cities throughout the South. The Daily Richmond examiner described participants in the Richmond Riot of April 2 as a “handful of prostitutes, professional thieves, Irish and Yankee hags, gallows-birds from all lands but our own.” The Northern press viewed events differently: “Sowing and Reaping,” which appeared in Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper the following month, presented Southern women as responsible for their own plight by encouraging their men to fight.

Nathaniel Gammon, Jr., Letter to his sister, “Camp near Chantilli,” 5 April 1863.
Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Fund (MSS 12916)

In this 1863 letter home, Gammon, a Union soldier serving with the 25th Maine Infantry, gives an impartial account of the desolation he saw in the vicinity of Bull Run near Chantilly, Va. He writes that

there are families here who have lost friends in both armies and also been stripped of personal property by both armies as each in turn held this part of Virginia, and defenceless women and children are actualy suffering for food …

William Pope Dabney, Montpellier Plantation ledger, 1858-1880.
Coles-Special Collections Fund (MSS 15682)

This ledger contains the records of Montpellier, Dabney's plantation in Powhatan County, Va. In addition to details about crops and land management for Montpellier, Woodson, and other Dabney properties, the ledger includes information about Dabney’s slaves. In a May 1, 1863, entry titled “Personal Property W. P. Dabney listed for Taxation…,” he recorded the names, ages, and values of his slaves alongside his cattle, a piano, and other possessions.