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Civil War and Reconstruction
The South During the Civil War
Life During Confederate Days

The following document is an excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 from Georgia. In it Mrs. W.W. Mize describes some of her experiences as a young woman during the war. Her father had been a soldier in the Confederate army, was sent home after being wounded, and soon died. What hardships does Mrs. Mize describe as a result of this event?

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"Well, I was born 87 years ago, June 22, 1852. My father was shot in the arm while in action during the first year of the Confederate War. He was sent home later because of illness and finally died with typhoid fever. He left ma with six chilluns, three boys and three girls. I was the oldest and I had to help ma raise the chilluns, but we worked hard, everybody had to work hard then. I have seen people cry and beg for something to eat. But I took those chillun and sent them to school, and I made them help me when they got home. We did all kinds of field work. Mother and me had to make all our clothes, spin the cotton and weave the cloth. Child, we have had to sit at night, spin cotton and weave by a light'ood knot for light a many a time. Our salt we got from the smoke house. We have had folks to come to our smoke house a many a time and get the dirt and boil it for salt. And we didn't have no sugar either. Ma never let the syrup barrel get empty, unless, she was cleaning it out to fill it again with fresh syrup. We sweetened pies, cakes and coffee and liked it as good as we like sugar today. Yes, sometimes now I make some old fashion sweet bread, ginger bread and I like it to this day for coffee. We parched wheat or rye. We didn't make enough wheat to have biscuits every day, we just baked biscuits twice a week. My mother would never let us cook on Sundays, we had to cook enough Saturdays to last till Monday.

"We was raised to go to church. I allus saw that my brothers and sisters had good enough clothes to go. You see my oldest brother was a preacher and a fine Baptist preacher he was.

"My mother's father was a preacher, she had three brothers and one son that was preachers. I ain't bragging but my people on both sides were good."
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View the entire interview with Mrs. Mize from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.