Southern Soldier Boy



Something for the weekend.  The Southern Soldier Boy (1863).


Union troops writing home would often mention that Southern women were much more outspoken in support of the Confederacy than Southern men and far more bitter to the Union than them.  I think that those Southern women would have taken that as high praise!  The Confederacy lacked almost everything when it went to war, except brave men and braver women.  Stephen Vincent Benet noted this in his epic poem of the Civil War, John Brown’s Body:


This view may be reckoned a trifle narrow,
But it had the driving force of an arrow,
And it helped Mary Lou to stand up straight,
For she was gentle, but she could hate
And she hated the North with the hate of Jael
When the dry hot hands went seeking the nail,
The terrible hate of women’s ire,
The smoky, the long-consuming fire.
The Yankees were devils, and she could pray,
For devils, no doubt, upon Judgment Day,
But now in the world, she would hate them still
And send the gentlemen out to kill.

The gentlemen killed and the gentlemen died,
But she was the South’s incarnate pride
That mended the broken gentlemen
And sent them out to the war again,
That kept the house with the men away
And baked the bricks where there was no clay,
Made courage from terror and bread from bran
And propped the South on a swansdown fan
Through four long years of ruin and stress,
The pride–and the deadly bitterness.




Published in: on August 27, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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