Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause

By Caroline E. Janney

List Price:  $37.50
SHNV/SWR Price:  $30.87

Immediately after the Civil War(sic) white women across the South organized to retrieve and rebury the remains of Confederate soldiers scattered throughout the region. In Virginia alone, these Ladies' Memorial Associations (LMAs) relocated and reinterred the remains of more than 72,000 soldiers, nearly 28 percent of the 260,000 Confederate soldiers who perished in the war. Challenging the notion that southern white women were peripheral to the Lost Cause movement until the 1890s, Caroline Janney restores these women's place in the historical narrative by exploring their role as the creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition between 1865 and 1915.

Although not considered "political" or "public actors," upper- and middle-class white women carried out deeply political acts by preparing elaborate burials and holding Memorial Days in a region still occupied by northern soldiers. Janney argues that in identifying themselves as mothers and daughters in mourning, LMA members crafted a sympathetic Confederate position that Republicans, northerners, and, in some cases, southern African Americans could find palatable. Long before national groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the United Daughters of the Confederacy were established, Janney shows, local LMAs were earning sympathy for lost Confederates. Janney's exploration introduces new ways in which gender played a vital role in shaping the politics, culture, and society of the late nineteenth-century South.