When Union troops advanced on the Confederate army on 21st July 1861 at 1st Bull Run/Manassas Junction, no one realised that this was the start of four years of bloody fighting that would not only affect the soldiers on both sides, but would also affect every citizen that had not taken up arms.
Civilians on both sides were forced to make sacrifices for the war effort, which meant not only were their luxury items going to disappear but many of their everyday items too. Pots and pans, cutlery, cooking utensils went towards making guns and equipment,spare clothing was collected to clothe both armies. Anything and everything was collected for the war effort.
It was the South that was hit hardest. When the Union Navy blockaded the Southern ports the South found themselves alone, and it was as early as the Fall of 1862 that the civilians had to use every means possible just to survive.They would come to remember the stories their grandparents use to tell when theywere at war with the British, and how they had to find substitutes for everyday items like foods, medicines clothing and shoes, the list was endless, and substitutes were found in the most unlikely places.
It was the women & children that found themselves working in the factories, ploughing fields, driving wagons and doing anything their men folk were doing before the war.Many civilians in the South did not own slaves, but it still wasn't normal for most women to do manual labour. All this would last for four years until 1865 when the war ended and the fighting men could finally come home.
The civilians, more so in the South, had endured pain and hardship in those four years and yet through imagination and innovation had in the most part come through it and survived.
Today within the Civilian Society we do not aim to go around starving, or bare footed, as some did back then, but, through showing all types of clothing, displaying items of interest and talking to people, we aim to pass on some of the things that helped the civilians on both sided endure those four years of fighting.
Our Civilian Society membership includes men, women and children and family groups are particularly welcome! So if you have an interest and would like to join us please come along to the American Civil War camp and talk to one of the Civilians dressed in period clothing and they would be pleased to help you make your mind up. Alternatively please complete the contact form.