Thursday, October 16, 2014

Female Bushwhackers

Here is another story I found in an old book, this time Frank Moore's The Civil War in Song and Story 1860-1865, which I have used in the past. This tale comes from page 423 and offers a few interesting, even brash,  comments on some of the southern women the author had encountered.

Female Bushwhackers 

The women of the South are the goads that prick the men to action. I should have said first that there are female as well as male bushwhackers. When a woman takes one of these creatures to her home or heart, as the case may be, she becomes a partner to his guilt, according to the common law. She thus recognizes his vocation, and applauds him in his robberies. She is the receiver, and the receiver is as bad as the thief. All the country is infested by these guerrillas and bushwhackers; they have certain haunts, where they make their headquarters and store away their plunder. These haunts are invariably presided over by that creature (God help her, after all) of modern growth and the off-spring of the miseries of war - the "war widow." They are, without exception, bitter and inveterate secesh. Usually, indeed in all cases, ignorant and wholly uneducated, they are entirely controlled by passion. Being in destitute circumstances, and lonely, they gladly become the accomplices of this herd of robbers prowling about. I am not to be understood as saying that all the women of the South who unfortunately have lost their husbands in this war, are of this class known as "war widows." Far be it from me. I have found many such women as intelligent, refined and pure as any I have ever known. But everybody knows, or is supposed to know, what the real "war widow" is, and it is of her I write. She makes a good home bushwhacker; aids and abets freely and voluntarily in all the depredations of her  accomplice. She feeds and clothes him, secretes him when hunted down, encourages him in his bad work,  and does all she can (and women are all-powerful for good or evil) to make him a reckless and depraved outlaw. There is a certain sort of superstitious poetry of innocence stitched to woman's being, which has been handed down to us since the time Adam beheld the beautiful image of Eve in the clear, crystal water. While I would regret to despoil woman any of the romance of her nature, I must say that, as far as regards women  bushwhackers, there is nothing in their natures except poetical depravity - a license in licentious liberty, which mars and blackens her nature. As liars, they cannot be excelled in the universe. Actually, they would lie anything or anybody out of existence. And they do it with such brazen impudence - such a shameless air of innocence. Their little hearts are awfully corrupt. While out with scouting parties,  I have repeatedly asked for various kinds of information from these frail creatures, and, looking into my face as innocent as an unwooed maiden, they have told lie upon lie, yes, mountains of them. Their moral perception of right and wrong is very blunt, while their perceptive faculties are quite acute in judging of the relative value of a ring, a blanket, a watch, or other article brought them by their bushwhacking lords." - "Dr. Adonis, in the Louisville Journal"

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