Civil War NonCombatants

Poster Session by LaDonne Delgado and Mike Ballard

The story of Civil War soldiers and battles has been often told. Not so well known are the experiences of non-combatants: white women and children of the north and south, southern slaves, and males who, for a variety of reasons, were not in the armies. Through a panorama of images, this poster session illustrates the varied experiences of the noncombatants. White northern women are seen in their roles as nurses and other support positions. White southern women and children are forced to cope with hunger and the refugee life. Fortunate wives sometimes got to visit their husbands at the front. Civilians of all types were often in harm's way during battles and/or often had to deal with the destructive aftermath. Slave women often supported their white mistresses as they shared the common bonds of fear, uncertainty and deprivation. Freed slaves sometimes found themselves forced to work for their Union liberators. The common determination among all noncombatants seemed to be a determination to survive, whatever the dangers, humiliations, disappointments, challenges, losses, and disruptions. They endured and in doing so left a shining legacy for their descendants and for their reunited country that has persisted down through the ages.

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Women and children are among the refugees fleeing the war-torn Virginia country side for expected safety in Richmond.

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Atlanta civilians are forced to leave by General William T. Sherman after Confederate General John B. Hood leaves the city undefended.

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Northern women meet in New York City to organize the Women's Central Association of Relief to help the war effort.

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New Orleans women are among the defiant who greet Union General William Butler who demands the surrender of the city which has been evacuated by Confederate defenders.

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Women, children and other civilians of Sharpsburg, Maryland, live the horror of flying artillery shells during the Battle of Antietiam.

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Refugees in northwest Arkansas try to cope with the frigid weather after being driven from their homes during the Pea Ridge campaign.

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Wives of Union officers pose with their spouses on the steps of the Robert E. Lee home, Arlington, in northern Virginia.

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White and, ironically, black citizens hit the streets of a southern town trying to get recruits for the Confederate army.

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Illinois troops and their ladies near Vicksburg.

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Ladies of the state of Michigan relief association help out with Union wounded in Virginia.

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In the early part of the war, hard-pressed neighbors of Jefferson Davis's brother, Joseph, came to the Davis plantation for supplies and scarcities such as soap.

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The Sanitation Commission in the North was a great success in helping the welfare of soldiers at the front. Women played a key role in making the Commission work.

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The United States Christian Commission distributed Bibles to Union troops. Apparently children sometimes helped getting the books boxed up for shipment to the front.

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Nurses look out a window at a Federal hospital in the Washington area.

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Mrs. Felicia Grundy Porter, President of the Women's Relief Society of the Confederate States.

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Women and children come to a Union convalescent camp in Virginia to comfort loved ones.

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Union Sanitary Commission nurse with her patients in a field hospital near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Slaves freed from the Jefferson Davis plantation in Mississippi by Union soldiers are herded to river boats where they most likely were taken to places near Union forces to work as laborers, cooks, or servants.

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Vicksburg resident Lucy McRae; the look in her eyes seems to tell the story of the pressures of living in the besieged city.

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Civilians, including a young girl in the foreground, survey damage in Baton Rouge after the battle there in the fall of 1862.

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In Beaufort, South Carolina, area citizens in need of food came to the Federal Quartermaster center to get food from the victorious Union army.

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Young girls like this one often did a sham pose, this one as a drummer boy, to encourage boyfriends to join the army.

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Ladies of Pennsylvania sewing a large flag for state troops at the front.

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Some women, like this young woman in Cincinnati, helped offset the absence of the breadwinner by peddling apples along city streets.

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The Civil War fueled unrest among Indians in the west. White settlers often became refugees as they sought safety from Indian uprisings.

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In lower right hand corner of photo, note two Richmond women appropriately dressed in black as they survey the massive war damage to the Confederate capital city in 1865.

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Contrabands (slaves freed by Union soldiers) on a farm in Virginia.

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Jim Limber, a young mulatto orphan in Richmond, was taken in by the Jefferson Davis family. The family turned him over to a Union officer after Davis was arrested and taken to prison in 1865.

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The faces of these North Carolina women seem to underline the sadness of the war's impact on the South.

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Southern women ride to a Union commissary for rations in the Virginia winter of early 1864.

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A Confederate family is forced to flee their home.

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An upper class Confederate family in Virginia tries to forget the trials of war by engaging in a game of croquet.

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There was a unique relationship between Southern white women and their slave servants. The deprivations of war often forced them into an unlikely alliance.

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Confederate civilians pose forlornly for the camera as they struggle to cope with the war.

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Frederick, Maryland citizens welcome General George McClellan and his Union army as they pass through the Antietam campaign.

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In Beaufort, South Carolina, area citizens in need of food came to the Federal Quartermaster center to get food from the victorious Union army.

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In New Bern, North Carolina, a family of men, women and children sit helplessly as their home is seized by a Federal officer for his personal headquarters.

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This cartoon-like drawing shows angry Richmond women participating in the city's bread riots that resulted from food shortages.

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A depiction of the typical Confederate group of non-combatants, an elderly planter, his daughter and her children, waving encouragement of Confederate soldiers marching to the battle of Chickamauga.

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Ladies and gentlemen of Savannah must get passes to leave the city after it is surrendered to General William T. Sherman.