The Civil War had a profound impact on daily lives of all the people in South Carolina

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8-4. 6 Compare the differing impact of the Civil War on South Carolinians in each of the various social classes, including those groups defined by race, gender, and age.
The Civil War had a profound impact on daily lives of all the people in South Carolina.

Prior to the Civil War, plantation owners became wealthy from cash crops and slavery. Slaves also gave their owners social and political status; therefore the plantation owners defended slavery and the southern way of life. When the war came, many of the wealthiest slave owners volunteered and served as officers in the Confederate army. Others were exempt from service under the “20 slave” law. So men from the lower classes served and died in disproportionate numbers to their elite countrymen. When the Civil War ended, many plantations had been destroyed. War brought an end to slavery and the plantation owners lost the fortunes that had been tied up in slave property. Since a manpower shortage in the South during the war pressed most males into service, after the war ended most of the male population was Confederate veterans who were eventually pardoned by the US government.

As the men went off to fight, women were left behind to tend to the farms and run the plantations. The lives of women were made especially difficult because of shortages of supplies such as clothes and food needed by the southern soldiers. Women found substitutes for many products or did without, especially as inflation made Confederate money worthless. Some women served as nurses to the wounded or raised money for the cause. Many were forced to flee their homes as Union forces advanced, only to return to ruins. At the end of the war, many were left widowed and were forced to continue to be the sole providers for the family.

During the war, African Americans longed for their freedom and many fled to nearby Union lines to claim it. Others stayed on the plantation and waited for the Union army. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in areas that had not yet been captured by the Union army were free. These states, still under the control of the Confederacy, did not obey the Union president and most slaves remained on plantations following the progress of the war. Slaves were freed as a result of military action, not as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Lincoln’s proclamation allowed African Americans to fight for the Union Army and many, including both free blacks and recent runaways, volunteered immediately. Although African American troops served with distinction, they were discriminated against. They served under the leadership of white officers and were paid less than their white comrades. Some African Americans were put into service for the Confederate armies, as masters took their slaves with them to the battlefield or they were commandeered to build defenses.

The Civil War also had an impact on children. Both slave and free children assisted around the farm or plantation. They suffered the same privations as other members of the wartime society. Some boys as young as 10 enlisted in the army, served as drummer boys and standard bearers, were sometimes caught in the crossfire and died for their cause. After the war, many children were left without fathers or had fathers whose ability to earn a livelihood was hampered as a result of the injuries (and surgeries) they had sustained during the war. An entire generation grew up coping with war-resultant changes that made their lives vastly different from those of their parents’ generation

  1. In the South did more men die from the lower or upper class? Why?

  2. What happened to ex-Confederate soldiers?

  3. What did women do during the war?

  4. What was the status of many women after the war?

  5. What slaves were set “free” by the Emancipation Proclamation?

  6. In the Union what were some ways that African American soldiers were discriminated against?

  7. How were children affected by the war?

Primary Source Reading

1st Conn. Artillery.

Fort Richardson  Arlington Heights

Jan. 22nd 1862 

Dear Mother, Brothers & Sisters

As I received by telegraph the sad information of fathers death. I haste to send you a line in the form of a letter at the earliest opportunity, expressing my regret that either George or myself were not permitted to pay the last tribute of respect to our beloved Parent, but circumstances are such as to render it impossible at the time, as it is more than probable that there will be an advance of this portion of the army in a very few days perhaps before this reaches you. Perhaps we may go, perhaps not.

As soon as the dispatch reached me I went to see the Col. to see if it was possible for me to get a time off to attend the funeral, he said that word came to him from Gen. McClellan to grant none to anyone for any time, though he (the Col.) would be glad to let me have one if he could.

You may be sure that I sympathize with you all at this trying moment, knowing that we shall be missed more at this time perhaps than any since we left our home to go out to help sustain our government and to fall in so doing if necessary.

The bad news was little expected by us as it was only a week since I received a letter from him.

I know none of the particulars of his death, all I know as yet is simply the telegram saying he died on the morning of the 21st Inst. wishing George and me to come to attend the funeral Saturday, if we could, it was signed I. F. Abbe. I suppose it meant Randolph.

By this dispensation we as a family are all afflicted; Mother is left a widow and we are orphans; I feel that I can say in this “God doeth all things well, let his will be done.”

The question arises now (in which George and I am interested) how is the family left and how will they get along? I know nothing of your circumstances how you are left but I suppose that you will remain together until Spring certain and then perhaps you may think best to have a change. There will be some expenses connected with this event and I am not able to see how you will settle them. George and I am willing to do what we can to help keep the family together, you will please send the particulars of your circumstances; and expenses to be paid etc to me. I have a little money by me at the present time and a little in Hartford and which I shall furnish if necessary.

Mother in my absence I can only refer you for comfort to Him who has said he would never leave, nor forsake us, try and keep up your spirit as much as you can. I will wait until I hear from you before I write more, much love to you all.

James P. Elliott


  1. What does the soldier want time off for and is he given it?

  2. What do you think the soldier most concerned about?

Primary Source Reading #2


7 Reg Ga Vol Near Zolicofer Tenn April the 4th 1864

Mrs Sary Jane Benefield

Dear beloved wife I seat my self this morning to drop you A few lines to let you no that I am well at this time and hoping this few lines may --- ---- to hand and find you enjoying the best of health we marched five days it snode and rained everyday we ar campt Aleven miles from the line of Virginia When you hear from me again I will be in Virginia I recton We hav stopied at Zolicofer to rest A few days on tuesday the 22 of March the snow fell two feet deep hear & it has bin snowing & raining evry sence We ar on our rode to Virginia I think
Jane we ar faring verry bad for something to eat we git flour with the brand in it & it is half oats & man cant hardly eate it we dont git half A nuf if it We steal A little & prearsh A little We cant by nothing our money ant no count Jane this is the fift letter I hav rote to you & got no
ancer yet Jane I dont no what to think Jane you sed you wood write to me every week if you have rite to me I hant got you letter Jane if node how bad I want to hear from you you wood write to me I hant got A crutch of fear from no body Sence I left home I am About eight hundred milds from home Jane I dont no how to write if I git A letter I wood no better how to write Jane tell brother that I am A looking for A letter from him thay Say that the Yankes is Advansing on richmon A gin we hav to go and defend it we A folling back out of east tennessee Jane we saw a bad time A marching threw the snow & rain thay ar A feeding us on oats & rye & wheat mus- togather & it not boiled the chaf & brand is all in it Giv my lov and best respects to all friends I must Close So no more at present Only remains your truly husband until deth

Write soon Good By When this you See remember Me

Z H J Benefield

Dy rect your letter to Bristle tenn Com G 7 Reg Ga Vol


  1. Is this Soldier from the north or the south? How do you know?

  2. What would he desperately like from his wife?

  3. How does he describe the conditions?

Workbook Pages:

Page 169 Literacy Elements: Using a Table

Page 178 Literacy Elements: Interpreting Charts and Graphs

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