Susan Blackford

Civil War Nurse in Virginia Susan and Charles Blackford agreed when Charles went to war that they would keep all letters that passed between them. Charles wrote home as often as possible, eager to preserve as much of his experiences as he could, realizing that impressions faded quickly. Susan recorded the events on the Virginia home front. Susan Leigh Colston was born in 1835 to one of Virginia’s first families, and she married the distinguished Charles Minor Blackford, a Virginia aristocrat. Charles enlisted in the Second Virginia Cavalry Regiment, Army of Northern Virginia, at the outset of the war. He left their home in Lynchburg, Virginia in June 1861. Image: Letters from Lee’s Army Most of Charles’ service was in…

Read Article

Kate Stone

Civil War Diarist from Louisiana Kate Stone was twenty years old when the Civil War began. At that time, she was living with her widowed mother, five brothers and younger sister in northeastern Louisiana at her family home Brokenburn, a large cotton plantation of 1,260 acres and 150 slaves. Kate kept a diary from 1861 through 1868, in which she recorded her daily experiences. She had doubts about what her future might bring, writing that “women grew significantly uglier in wedlock and ignored and abandoned their former female friends.” During the war Kate and her family lost everything, watched as their way of life was destroyed and left their home to become fugitives to escape the Union Army they feared…

Read Article

Judith McGuire

Civil War Diarist and Refugee Judith Brockenbrough McGuire, the daughter of a Virginia Supreme Court justice and mother of two Confederate soldiers, was married to John P. McGuire, founder of the Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, where he taught until the beginning of the Civil War. He was elected to the Virginia secession committee and voted to secede from the Union. Judith McGuire’s journal, Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War, by a Lady of Virginia, (University of Nebraska Press, October 1995), is one of the best civilian records of the Civil War. The book is based on a diary she kept between May 4, 1861 and May 4, 1865. Matthew Page Andrews’ The Women of the South in…

Read Article

Emily Lyles Harris

Emily Lyles was born in 1827 and grew up in the village of Spartanburg, South Carolina, until 1840, when the family moved to the country. Amos Lyles was determined to educate his only daughter, and he enrolled Emily in Phoebe Paine’s school in the village. Emily boarded there as well. Miss Paine was a Yankee, and believed that women should be educated to their full potential, and she taught Emily to write with feeling and understanding about the world around her. Miss Paine also admonished Emily to never forget her innate talents. Emily married David Lyles in 1846. David farmed 100 acres of his 500-acre property, which was located 8 miles from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Thereafter, Emily’s life was tough….

Read Article

Cornelia Phillips Spencer

Cornelia Phillips Spencer, a writer during the Civil War era, was born March 20 1825 in Harlem, New York where her father conducted a boys’ school. She was the youngest of three children. Her family moved to Chapel Hill in 1826 when her father, James Phillips, took a post as Professor of Mathematics at the University of North Carolina. Cornelia grew up in Chapel Hill and was educated in Latin, Greek, French, literature, music, drawing, and needlework. In 1851, at age twenty-six, Cornelia met twenty-two-year-old James Munroe Spencer, a law student. They married in 1855 and moved to Alabama, where their only child, Julia “June” James Spencer, was born in 1859. In June 1861, James Spencer died after a long…

Read Article

Belle Edmondson

Civil War Spy and Smuggler Belle Edmondson ardently supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. She probably began smuggling supplies and funds to the Confederate army in 1862, after the fall of Memphis, and served as a Confederate agent throughout the war. In July 1864, she fled south, because the United States had issued a warrant for her arrest. Isabella Buchanan Edmondson was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on November 27, 1840, the youngest of eight children. When the Civil War began, the Edmondsons were living on a farm in Shelby County south of Memphis, Tennessee. They were staunch supporters of the Confederacy. Two of Belle’s brothers fought at Shiloh, and Belle nursed the wounded from that battle. In June 1862,…

Read Article

Eliza Frances Andrews

Novelist, Botanist and Educator Eliza Frances Andrews (1840-1931) was a popular Southern writer whose works were published in popular newspapers and magazines, including the New York World and Godey’s Lady’s Book. Her longer works included The War-Time Journal of a Georgian Girl (1908) and two botany textbooks. Her passion was writing, but financial troubles forced her to take a teaching job after the deaths of her parents, though she continued to be published. Eliza Frances Andrews was born in 1840 in Washington County, Georgia, the daughter of Judge Garnett and Annulet Ball Andrews. She became a writer and a teacher in the Civil War era. In the Andrews home, Eliza had access to newspapers, books, and magazines, and was encouraged…

Read Article

Catherine Devereux

Civil War Diaries from North Carolina Catherine Devereux Edmondston (1823-1875) was a member of the planter aristocracy of Halifax County, North Carolina. She was an educated woman of strong character whose intelligence and prejudices surfaced repeatedly in her letters and Civil War diaries. During the 1850s Catherine and her husband Patrick enjoyed a calm, fairly prosperous life at Looking Glass plantation. By 1860 they owned 88 slaves and a 1,894-acre estate, and were ardent secessionists. Catherine Ann Devereux was born in 1823, one of six children to Thomas Pollock Devereux and Catherine Ann Bayard Johnson. She was raised in a wealthy plantation owning family where she received a private education from her father. In 1846 she married Patrick Muir Edmondston,…

Read Article

Emma Holmes

Diarist in Charleston, South Carolina Emma Holmes, a Civil War diarist and teacher, was born in 1838 in Charleston, South Carolina, to a plantation owner. During the Civil War, from February 1861 until March 1866, Emma kept a diary of her life in Charleston, the affairs of her family and history as she observed it. A true Confederate, like many others, she believed the war would be over within a few months. In the spring of 1861, Emma recorded in her diary that “the city seemed suddenly turned into a camp. Nothing was heard but preparations for war. The great body of citizens [seems] to be so impressed with the justice of our cause that they place entire confidence in…

Read Article

Betty Churchill Lacy

Betty Churchill Jones was born at Ellwood Plantation in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near Fredericksburg. In the years following the Revolutionary War, brothers William and Churchill Jones went about acquiring homesteads in the Wilderness area of Virginia. William and his first wife built Ellwood in the 1790s. Churchill acquired the Falmouth mansion, Chatham, in 1806. Churchill Jones died in 1822, leaving Chatham to his brother, William, who was well advanced in years and already owned one large estate. He transferred Chatham to Judge Coalter, the husband of his only daughter, Hannah. He could not have bequeathed it directly to Hannah – it was unlawful for women to own property. In 1828, William Jones, in his 79th year, married Lucy Gordon, who…

Read Article