“The War Work of the Women of Dallas County” written by a woman clearly sympathetic to the Confederate cause, offers a great deal of insight into the wartime lives of the women of Dallas County, Alabama. Fry proudly documents the crumbs of information she could find. Some of this information referred to ten Military Aid Societies formed by Dallas County’s ladies during the war. Those ten societies were stationed in Cahaba, Selma, Plantersville, Pleasantville, Centre Ridge, Orrville, and Harrells Crossroads. Fry goes on to describe the situation in Cahaba and how the women of the area nursed the sick and wounded soldiers: both Confederate Soldiers and Yankees confined in the military prison that had recently been erected in Cahaba. She also says that the same women contributed more than a fair amount of funds and resources in maintaining the hospital.
Elise Virginia Vass wrote yet another resource providing a viewpoint. The manuscript she wrote contains descriptions of the military hospitals and the work of women in Montgomery during the war. She describes Union raids. Later she makes remarks about the Reconstruction and the presence of the recently freed men and women. She even describes the proceedings of a Ku Klux Klan meeting near Oakwood cemetery. Vass’ writing is unlike that of the others mentioned earlier for two reasons. One is because of her willingness to dive into political and social subjects. The other, which might be related, is that she was asked to write it.
Each of these resources was written by a woman in a different part of Alabama. They are mostly written by upper class, conservative women. Each of these women seemed to write for different reasons and to a different audience. These primary sources are better prepared to tell us about the perspectives of women living during the Civil War than any secondary source. Looking at any one of them shows a reader what Southern woman knew about the war, what she thought was important enough to record, and how her values affected her life during the war. They are vitally important when conducting research on a woman’s viewpoint and how they were affected by the American Civil War.
- Vass, Elise V. Memoir By Elise Virginia Jones Vass, Describing Life in Montgomery During the Civil War and Reconstruction. Alabama Department of Archives and History.
- Fry, Anna M. G. History of "The War Work of the Women of Dallas County," Written By Anna Maria Gayle Fry. Alabama Department of Archives and History.
Stephen Knight was born in Smithville, MS in 1997. He has graduated from Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS with an Associate’s of Arts Degree with special honors. Upon moving to Birmingham, AL he decided to pursue the remainder of his degree with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has since been majoring in Secondary Education and Social Sciences.