Burying the Dead but Not the Past

Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Burying the Dead but Not the Past
    Book Description:

    Immediately after the Civil War, white women across the South organized to retrieve the remains of Confederate soldiers. In Virginia alone, these Ladies' Memorial Associations (LMAs) relocated and reinterred the remains of more than 72,000 soldiers. Challenging the notion that southern white women were peripheral to the Lost Cause movement until the 1890s, Caroline Janney restores these women as the earliest creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition. Long before national groups such as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the United Daughters of the Confederacy were established, Janney shows, local LMAs were earning sympathy for defeated Confederates. Her exploration introduces new ways in which gender played a vital role in shaping the politics, culture, and society of the late nineteenth-century South.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0222-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    A few short miles from busy U.S. I-66, which carries throngs of politicians, bureaucrats, and visitors to the nation’s capital each day, rest the remains of more than two hundred Confederate soldiers in a small, unassuming cemetery. Located on the property of the Manassas National Battlefield Park, the Groveton Confederate Cemetery serves as a reminder of the nation’s bloodiest war. In this burial ground there is but one inconspicuous interpretive sign intended to provide at least a bit of the field’s turbulent history. The sign gets the story wrong, however, indicating that the cemetery had been established by the United...

  5. 1 Patriotic Ladies of the South Virginia Women in the Confederacy
    (pp. 15-38)

    While Virginia’s men and boys gathered their muskets and marched off to battle in the spring of 1861, the Commonwealth’s women understood that they, too, had an important role to play during this time of national crisis. Women willingly sent their husbands, brothers, and sons off to war; they helped supply the armies with clothing, food, and bandages; they endured countless hardships on the home front; they nursed the wounded and helped bury the dead; and they championed the southern cause.¹ Sixteenyear-old Lizzie Alsop not only supported the war effort by helping to send supplies to Confederate hospitals in Richmond,...

  6. 2 A Fitting Work The Origins of Virginia’s Ladies’ Memorial Associations, 1865–1866
    (pp. 39-68)

    The spring of 1865 brought peace to Virginia, but the scars of war remained visible throughout the state. During the past four years, graves of southern soldiers had been scattered across the Commonwealth, and with each passing month, residents uncovered more and more decomposing bodies and bleaching bones as they resumed their farming activities. Winchester’s Mary Dunbar Williams was especially disturbed by the lack of proper burials for the Confederate soldiers who had so ardently defended the Shenandoah Valley town. In May 1865, Williams visited her sister-in-law, Eleanor Williams Boyd, and recounted the story of a farmer who had plowed...

  7. 3 The Influence and Zeal of Woman Ladies’ Memorial Associations during Radical Reconstruction, 1867–1870
    (pp. 69-104)

    Even in the “tender” hands of southern women, Memorial Days and cemetery dedications smacked of unrepentant rebellion. The relatively lenient period of presidential Reconstruction had not quelled the Confederate spirit; in fact, it appeared to have stoked it. Southern Unionists and northerners fumed over such reports, repeatedly declaring that they were attempting reconciliation while ex-Confederates continued to exhibit bombastic and sectionalist behavior. One Unionist newspaper editor condemned the federal government’s policy of avoiding controversy: “Union men must keep quiet, hang their heads, and look on in submission, allowing young loyalists of the South . . . to do as they...

  8. 4 A Rather Hardheaded Set Challenges for the Ladies’ Memorial Associations, 1870–1883
    (pp. 105-132)

    On the night of October 12, 1870, a brief and solemn telegram reached Richmond announcing the death of the South’s famed chieftain, Robert E. Lee. The news of Lee’s passing brought a deep wave of mourning throughout the city, not experienced since the surrender at Appomattox five years earlier. Th e following morning, bells on all public buildings commenced tolling from sunrise to sunset as the news of the death spread through the city. The Tobacco Exchange, the city council, and the public offices of the state government immediately suspended all business, and the Chamber of Commerce encouraged all places...

  9. 5 The Old Spirit Is Not Dying Out Th e Memorial Associations’ Renaissance, 1883–1893
    (pp. 133-166)

    Beginning in 1866, the white citizens of Richmond had welcomed the warm days of spring with their annual memorial tributes at the Hebrew, Oakwood, and Hollywood Cemeteries. Whether in grand processions with orations or more subdued occasions of merely laying flowers on the graves, each year Richmonders had looked to the city’s Ladies’ Memorial Associations (LMAS) for direction and instruction. But a strange thing happened in the spring of 1883. Although the Hollywood Memorial Association (HMA) had made plans to decorate the graves, a newly formed veterans’ organization, the Lee Camp, took the liberty of inviting all Confederate veterans who...

  10. 6 Lest We Forget United Daughters and Confederated Ladies, 1894–1915
    (pp. 167-194)

    In 1894, a new Confederate women’s organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC or Daughters), entered the memorial scene. The birth and overwhelming success of the Daughters in many ways served as a testament to the triumph of the Ladies’ Memorial Associations (LMAS). Their decades-long work had provided the conditions and opportunity for the UDC to take up the banner of Confederate patriotism, and initially memorial women rejoiced that their efforts to instill reverence for the Lost Cause had succeeded so well. But it soon became clear that the Daughters intended to take over both the Ladies’ objectives and...

  11. Epilogue: A Mixed Legacy
    (pp. 195-200)

    One hundred and forty years after the close of the Civil War, reminders of the Confederacy can be seen and in many ways felt in nearly every southern community. Rare is the southern town or city that cannot boast of a Confederate cemetery or, at the very least, a marble statue dedicated to its Confederate soldiers standing guard over the town square or courthouse lawn. Along with these physical reminders of the South’s history, numerous southern communities continue to observe many of the traditions put in place by the Ladies’ Memorial Associations (LMAS) in the 1860s. Celebrations of Confederate Memorial...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 201-202)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 203-256)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-270)
  15. Index
    (pp. 271-290)