The humanities and social science

2019 Issue №4

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Household management as seen by the federal military per­sonnel during the American Civil War



The problem of the American Civil War participants’ place in family rela­tions is frequently raised by scholars specializing in the cultural and social history of the conflict. Despite this fact, the dynamics of economic relation­ships between the Federal servicemen on the front and their relatives lacks proper attention. This article aims to define the types of the Union troops’ par­ticipation in the household economy. For this purpose, their letters and diary entries were analyzed in both formal and content-related aspects to find statements concerning the economic well-being of their families. These state­ments were put into the context of a soldier’s or officer’s rank in the family hi­erarchy and their antebellum economic activities. The main results are follow­ing. Firstly, the direct control over the family economics took forms of the real estate purchase and direct instructions concerning family business. It is wor­thy to note that there is a direct correlation between the serviceman’s place in the family and the width of the direct control area. Secondly, many of the farm-owners who joined the army ranks were forced, with some important ex­ceptions, to shift the control over their farms to their wives. Thirdly, the young Union soldiers did not participate in household economy planning. Ra­ther they sent their wages home, gave non-imperative advice and made mo­derate requests.


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