A rare examination of the traumas and privations Florida women suffered during the Civil War
Though the women of Florida suffered Civil War traumas and privations commensurate with women throughout the Confederacy, few of their experiences have become part of the historical record. With Grander in Her Daughters: Florida's Women during the Civil War Tracy J. Revels rescues from neglect these women and the challenges they faced. Drawing largely on primary source discoveries, Revels recounts the experiences of wives and widows, Unionists and secessionists, black female slaves and their plantation mistresses, business owners and refugees. Revels finds that no matter their political allegiance, these women lived dual lives, divided in their loyalties between what they often perceived as the competing interests of their nation and their families.
Isolated and largely unsettled, Florida remained a frontier into the middle of the nineteenth century. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1861 many Floridians embraced the Southern cause, and the state contributed more than its just share of manpower to the Confederacy. Revels shows that Florida's women, however, were not of one mind in their reaction to the conflict. Using diaries, letters, contemporary published sources, and an extensive series of United Daughters of the Confederacy scrapbooks, she presents the panorama of war through the eyes of such women.
Revels confirms that Florida's white women largely shared in the sisterhood of the Confederacy, supporting the cause by making uniforms, serving as nurses, and raising funds. They took on greater managerial responsibilities on farms and plantations, and they endured hardships and deprivations while awaiting the soldiers' return. Not all of Florida's women were Confederates, however, and Revels brings to light the diversity of the female experience. She demonstrates that slave women grew increasingly resistant to their condition as the war dragged on. Unionist women aided the Federals, free black women found new opportunities for employment, and poor women focused much more on providing for their families than on any cause of a political nature.
Born in Madison, Florida, Tracy J. Revels is an associate professor of history at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Florida State University and is the author of Watery Eden: A History of Wakulla Springs. Revels lives in Spartanburg.
"The story of women in Civil War Florida is either untold or mythologized. In this finely crafted and engaging social portrait of Florida's women during the Civil War, Tracy J. Revels fills this void. Revels's compelling narrative, drawn largely from underutilized manuscript materials, offers general readers and scholars vivid images of Florida's Civil War home front through the eyes of its women."—James M. Denham, Department of History, Florida Southern College, and coeditor of Echoes from a Distant Frontier: The Brown Sisters' Correspondence from Antebellum Florida
"This major book in Florida history utilizes new and familiar primary sources and the latest printed scholarship. Tracy J. Revels has fashioned an objective, balanced, and well written account of women in Florida during the Civil War. With an impressive mastery of quotes, she details the lives of plantation, middle class, cracker, pro-Unionist, and slave women. The fascinating work highlights their common concerns and highlights their differences in a convincing way."—William Warren Rogers, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Florida State University