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Civil War and Reconstruction
The South During the Civil War
Miss Emma Falconer Recalls Life During the Civil War

The following document is an excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 from Texas, although Mrs. Falconer lived in Mississippi during the Civil War. The excerpts below are from pages 8 and 10 of the interview. In what ways did life change for this young girl during the war?

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"Christmas in the year 1859! The last one just like it on the old plantation. As a child the memory still is with me of how for days before there was the hurry and preparation in both the home of my father and the quarters as well. The family is more than usual itself and for the time there is banishment of the war clouds that were then hanging over the south. I can see our old mammy servant as she brings in the tray of mine to serve to some guests as the older ones ask about the plans for Christmas, for on a plantation Christmas is the most important time of the year.

"This last Christmas was something for a child as I was, to remember, little did the older ones think it would be the last of its kind and of course we children thought of nothing but the happiness of the season. My information is that the next Christmas, the war being on, some of the old slaves had given up their sons to go with the young Masters, and many did not come home for the holidays, so no one had the heart to have the regular celebration. The children so happy this last Christmas time were not children any more when the war was over. The war had matured even the innocent ones into thoughtful grown-ups, and it was many years before they learned again to be as happy as this last time before the war came.

"When it came, my father and tow of my uncles went to fight for their state. They were in the Mississippi Company of Wayne's rifles and fought in the battle of Manassas. I do not remember all the battles they were in but my Uncle John was wounded and taken prisioner in Virginia and sent to a northern hospital. He was still in prison when peace came.

"This uncle was finally sent home from the northern prison after weary months of waiting. Several times during the war there were rumors of negro uprisings but this did not happen, and as a rule they stayed and helped to take care of the plantation when the men were away at the front. I remember how the plantation owners had to give their biggest part of their feed crops to feed their own soldiers and of course when the Union army came down into Mississippi they took what was left."
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View the entire interview with Miss Falconer from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.