Southern Belle or Female Rebel?

Good morning! In honor of Women’s History Month we thought we would share this Harper’s Weekly image (shown to the left). Along with the front page illustration the authors of Harper’s Weekly provided the following commentary:


WE devote page 561 to an illustration of a scene which will be familiar to all the volunteers who have been quartered in Baltimore. It represents A FEMALE SECESSIONIST FLAUNTING HER COLORS in the face of our troops. This has been an everyday incident at Baltimore ever since the 19th April. The men dare not insult the troops, but the women of Baltimore presume upon their sex, and wear secession colors, and salute our boys with—” Hurrah for Jeff Davis!” ” How about Bull Run?” ” Why don’t you go home ? ” -vastly to the amusement of our fellows

While some may have deemed the women’s actions as patriotic, the pro-Unionist staff of Harper’s Weekly was clearly dismayed by their blatant disrespect for federal authority. Underlying this critique of Confederate devotion was the tacit acknowledgement that Baltimore was greatly divided during the Civil War; this image is from September 1861 but five months earlier the city had witnessed the “Riot of April Nineteenth” in which mobs attacked Union regiments headed for Washington, DC and Lincoln’s call for volunteers. Perhaps even more striking than the writers’ allusions to the April riot are the parallels between these actions and those of the women of New Orleans a few months later.

Source and Image Credit: Harper’s Weekly, September 7, 1861.

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