Knitting in the Civil War South

In many of the letters Parham wrote home from the war front, frequent requests are made for articles of clothing such as a woolen jacket, warm pair of drawers, flannel and linsey-woolsey shirts, and yarn socks. It is common for modern 21st century readers to gloss-over such requests, assuming family members could easily purchase articles of clothing at a local department store and then pay a visit to the nearby post office to send the care package along with brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Instead, such requested items were often hand delivered by extended family members and neighbors returning back to camp after recovering at home from wounds or following a furlough. Furthermore, many such articles of clothing would have been hand made by Southern women as an act of patriotism. See Hannah McClearnen’s article about “Knitting in the Civil War South.”

Emerging Civil War

Today, we are pleased to welcome guest author Hannah McClearnen. 

“Weren’t they just at home knitting?”

When people think about the Southern home front, the first image that comes to mind is often the dutiful wife and mother, left at home knitting for their loved ones fighting in the Civil War. This seems to be a benign image, a relatively simple domestic scene that illustrates a small contribution to the war effort.

The tranquil image of Southern ladies knitting for soldiers is not as simple as it seems. “Just knitting” was actually quite difficult.

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