The Home Front
Women on the Home Front - North Carolina Museum of History
Over 125,000 men from North Carolina fought for the Confederacy, and their absence created new hardships for those left at home — especially women and children. In additon to taking care of homes, farms, and businesses, women and families faced many hardships. Supplies were hard to come by, and inflation was a major problem for civilians on the home front.
Many women helped provide supplies for the soldiers in the field, and also found work as public clerks or teachers. Across North Carolina, new enterprises manufactured war-related goods and accoutrements such as ammunition, cartridge boxes, swords, and firearms.
Many enslaved African American women fled to Union camps, finding work as servants and cooks.
These new roles for women helped set the stage for social reform in later decades.
In addition to the manufacture of textiles and military materials, North Carolinians attempted self-sufficiency in textbook publishing. Publishers used their products to help create a national identity for the Confederacy.
Despite the state's allegiance to the Confederacy, some North Carolinians supported the United States actively by enlisting to fight for the Union. Other citizens deserted from or evaded conscription into the Confederate army and questioned North Carolina's sacrifices as a Confederate state.
The Civil War disrupted a tenuous antebellum political balance between conservative planters and yeoman farmers and permanently divided North Carolina politics along lines of class and region.
Unfortunately, State and Confederate authorities acted too late and with too few resources to prevent widespread destitution on the home front.