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AUGUSTA IN THE CIVIL WAR

In a city of Mobile John Sledge describes as divided on the issue of secession, Augusta was a fierce advocate for disunion and devoted all her energies to the Confederate Cause.   Her zeal brought about the end of her engagement to New York editor James Reed Spaulding and inspired her to nurse the sick and wounded, visit battlefronts in Virginia, and give advice to Confederate leaders with whom she corresponded.    She later admitted the war years were the most exciting period of her life.

That she supported the South seems unsurprising to scholar Nina Baym:  Augusta was a woman of the South who no longer felt a part of the American nation.    But what explains the degree of her passion for the Confederate cause?   Biographer William Perry Fidler believes Augusta’s adverse view of the North formed during her stays in New York City in 1859-60.   Though she had met and fallen in love with Spaulding, she saw the North as a mercenary, immoral society and resented its condescension toward the South. 

Augusta’s third novel Macaria, published in 1863, extols the Southern cause so vehemently Fidler finds it to be propaganda, turning a blind eye to the evils of human bondage but proclaiming in sentimental terms a noble, genteel South.   Yet scholars such as Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust scholars have found in Macaria the strongest, most independent heroines the author ever created.   Whether a present day audience agrees with the positions she took in the 1860s, Augusta was a woman who held her own opinions and expressed them openly.    She was as strong or stronger in intellect as any of her heroines.

Click on the links in the left sidebar or on the chapter headings below:

Secessionism in Mobile

Breakup with James Spaulding

Confederate Activist

Macaria, or, Altars of Sacrifice