Women Plowing In The Field


By Mrs. James, of Doddridge

My husband joined the Confederate army the second year of the war and served until his death. We were living in Forsythe, Ga., at that time. He left me with five little boys.

Although I had plenty of Confederate money, it would not buy anything, and even with gold I had the greatest difficulty in procuring the necessaries of life. To support myself and children I was obliged to plow and hoe all day in the field, and then work a part of the night carding, spinning and weaving wool and cotton, to clothe myself and little ones. In the woods we found herbs that would dye our rough cloth, some for ourselves and some to send to my husband. Our coffee was made from corn meal and tea from sassafras roots. Those were hard times on a woman with no man to advise or help her.

After the Yankees came, there was new money, greenbacks, and some five and ten-cent shinplasters. As the money would buy something, and as there were occasionally sutler stores in the Federal army where purchases might be made, I sold a few geese and was able to obtain some very necessary articles.


The advance of the Federal army did not always mean a permanent stay. The federals came frequently as a raiding party and would retire upon the advance of a Confederate force, which had also no intention of remaining permanently. The Federals were enemies, but the Confederates were often in desperate need of horses, forage and food. War also dulled the sensibilities of men. They became used to pillage and a weak woman's voice was not heard. A raiding party of one side would come one week, to be followed by a scouting party of the other side. We hid our horses in the forest thickets and they found them saddled and bridled. These raiders robbed our beegum, took all the food in sight. I have stood in my yard and heard the cannons roar and the small arms crackle, as a skirmish or battle began. My husband was in a distant command, and under all the sad circumstances that surrounded my life I sometimes wished that the battle roar that fell upon my ears was the death knell of the war.


I am now 73 years old and have been for many years a resident of Arkansas. The Confederate Pension Board of the State upon a consideration of the changed circumstances of my life and perhaps the fidelity with which I have tried to uphold the character of a Southern woman, granted me a pension in 1904, of $48. I appreciate the kindness of the Pension Board. It makes an old woman feel good to know that her husband's army life and her own sacrifices during the Civil war are not forgotten.


There happened to be on post one night in Arkansas a Frenchman by the name of Victor Pedron, as gallant a Confederate as ever shouldered a musket. He was on the second relief and toward the close of his tour was getting tired and sleepy, when to his great joy, he saw a body of men approaching, which he did not doubt was the third relief. "Who comes dere?" he called. "Grand rounds," was the reply. "Begar, I thought it was ze tird relief," returned the disappointed sentinel, and then nothing further being said, the group advanced, rousing the weary sentinel again: "Who come dere?" Again was repeated, "Grand rounds." But this time the irritated man could not contain himself and half asleep shouted: "Oh, go vay wid your grand rounds. I have ze grand sommeil."