Carolina Women During the Civil War

North Carolina women, well as the women of the Confederate States of America were called “Mothers of Invention” during the conflict known as the War Between the States. Many of the women saw their husbands, father, sons or brothers leave home, with many never returning. In fact, North Carolina gave more men and boys to the Confederate cause and lost more men and boys than any other Confederate state. There was a devotion of love and duty among these brave women of the South. So strong was their devotion that they labored day and night, not only to keep the home life afloat during their absence, but to provide those things that soldiers would need during the course of their duties.

Some of their inventions were making hats out of Palmetto leaves, corn shuchs, oat straw and broad leaf grasses. Buttons were made from dried gourds, clothes were fastened with buttons made from persimmons seeds. Slippers were made from bark and rabbit fur. Most of the clothing was made as homespun. Cartridge belts and bullet pockets were fashioned from layers of cloth sewed together and covered with a varnish.

Other items were stocking and gloves made from a mixture of rabbit fur and cotton, which was carded and spun. Roots and barks were used to make dye for dying the home spun material. Shoes were made from cowhide in its natural state, the hide was covered with smoot to blacken them.

The women even found substitutes for food. Sorghum was used for sugar; rye, wheat, okra and acorns were substituted for coffee. Ashere from corn cobs were used for soda. Sassafras leaves and roots were made into tea. (I loved sassafras teas as a young boy.) Pine knots were used for candles. Soaps were made by boiling scraps of meat, meat skins and bones in lye. Christmas fruitcakes were made from dried cherries, persimmons, orange peels and watermelon rinds. Ink was made from poke and elder berries. Old wallpaper was pulled down from the walls and covered with a flour paste and used to write on. Many a day the ladies would spend in the woods hunting and gathering anything they could find that would help them on the home front.