Defense Date

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Ted Tunnell

Abstract

This thesis examines the homefront experience of middle class, white women living in Winchester, Virginia during the Civil War. The experience of women in Winchester was unique because of Winchester's proximity to both the Union and Confederate capitals. Although the majority of Winchester's women were Confederate supporters a significant minority of the population remained loyal to the Union. Winchester citizens' divided status was further complicated by numerous occupations of the town by both armies. This thesis argues that in order to cope with wartime hardships women's concepts of patriotism changed as homefront morale waned. While early in the war women's patriotism reflected their support of the military, as the war progressed women began defining themselves as either Unionists or Confederates in order to maintain a sense of self. These wartime identities centered on the legitimacy of a particular cause and the vilification of the "enemy" thereby creating a clear line between good and evil to help women cope with the death and destruction of war. Winchester's various wartime occupations, however, undermined women's emotional justifications for war as contact with soldiers humanized the enemy and skewed the battle lines.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

History Commons

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