Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Confederate Attack on Washington, DC

As the war stretched on, lower class white women faced an uphill battle to survive.  The Confederate government stepped up efforts to conscript men, and the absence of male providers coupled with ongoing problems with inflation and shortages, led many women to seek paid employment.  The Confederate government hired seamstresses as “pieceworkers” in Atlanta.  They produced coats, pants, and shirts for $.50 to $1.50 per hand-stitched garment.  However there was never enough work to go around, and Atlanta’s pieceworkers competed with women who took the train into the city daily from nearby communities.  Atlanta’s Confederate Arsenal employed women who earned $.75 to $1.00 per day rolling and sewing cartridge bags.  A growing number of children, ages eleven to fifteen, also entered factory work.  They earned a pittance at the Arsenal, usually $.35 to .55 cents per day.  While family members pooled their resources, prices continued to rise.  By 1864, a bushel of sweet potatoes cost $20 and fabric to make a woman’s dress ran $108.  Not surprisingly, lawlessness became an increasing problem.  Desperate civilians, including women and children, stole vegetables from gardens, chickens from henhouses, food and clothing from local stores.   One frustrated resident wrote a letter to a city newspaper suggesting that high prices injured the cause of Confederate independence as much as did Yankee invaders, “by causing the poorer classes, to a great extent,” to call for “peace upon almost any terms.” - See more at:
I grew up near the Monocacy battlefield. From Smithsonian:
Professional soldiering seems not to have appealed to Jubal Early; he resigned from the U.S. Army in 1838, just one year after graduation from West Point, and went back only briefly in 1846 to do his duty in the Mexican War. He had argued caustically against secession and for the Union until his state seceded, whereupon he became an equally caustic supporter of the Confederacy and a colonel in its army.

It soon became clear that he was that rare commodity, a forceful and courageous leader of men in battle. This had been so at First and Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. As his commands increased in size, however, his touch became less sure and his luck more spotty. Yet such was General Lee's confidence that in 1864 Early had been given command of one of the three corps in the Army of Northern Virginia.

And now here he was, on the brink of history, about to quench the boundless thirst for recognition that glittered ceaselessly from his black eyes. Pursuant to Lee's instruction, he had chased one Federal army away from Lynchburg, Virginia, and clear into the West Virginia mountains where it disappeared. He met another near Frederick, Maryland, on the Monocacy River, and swept it aside. On fire with the glory of it all, forgetting his limited objective, Early now rasped out his orders to Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes, commander of the leading division: throw out a skirmish line; move forward into the enemy works; attack the capital of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln himself visited the fort and watched the sinuous dust clouds raised by enemy columns approaching from the northwest. "In his long, yellowish linen coat and unbrushed high hat," an Ohio soldier who had seen him at the fort wrote, "he looked like a care worn farmer in time of peril from drouth and famine." Far away to the south, the relentless Grant had refused to be distracted from his slow strangulation of Lee's army. On the whole, Lincoln approved; he had, after all, tried for three long years to find a general who would devote himself to destroying the enemy armies instead of striking attitudes and defending Washington. But it must have occurred to the President, that afternoon, that maybe Grant had gone too far. (Read more.)

No comments: