Like her, other women in Alabama faced the hardships of war and the blockade with determination. Parthenia Antoinette Hague, who was living in Eufaula, found that her family and her community were “encompassed and blockaded by the Federal forces” and “were most sadly straitened and distressed.” Looking back on the war in the 1880s, Hague remembered that they “had to depend altogether upon our own resources,” and they “joined with zealous determination to make the best of our position, and to aid the cause our convictions impressed on us as right and just.” To cope with the blockade, women in South Alabama began growing food instead of cotton. At the same time, they dealt with the lack of common domestic goods by sewing their own clothing and making their own dyes. As Hague recalled, the women’s sacrifices sometimes required them to swallow their pride. They were willing, she explained, “to immolate ourselves on the altar of our Southern Confederacy.” Nevertheless, she continued, “it had fallen rather severely on us to think that we must wear hog-skin shoes!”
Wearing homemade shoes may have seemed devastating, but, in other ways, the women were remarkably creative. “Willow wickerwork came in as a new industry with us,” Hague remembered. “We learned to weave willow twigs into baskets of many shapes and sizes.” One innovative Alabama woman even used her willow-weaving skills to create “a beautiful and ornate body for her baby carriage.”
Despite white women’s willingness to endure hardship through innovation, by the end of 1864, Hague remembered that the inhabitants of southern Alabama “were caged up like a besieged city.” The South was “hemmed in,” and “[n]ot one tenth of the government tithes of grain and meat, west of the Mississippi River, could reach us; the blockade was all around, the Federal army’s tents were pitched on Southern soil; detachments of the Union army were invading the narrowing space of territory…and laying waste the country through which they marched.” With no provisions, Hague and her fellow Alabamians waited for the inevitable end of the war.