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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