Protect Us! White Female Protection on the Home Front
During the Inner Civil War, white women and white men struggled with the collapse of their social structure. When the war ended and the Confederacy conceded defeat, one thing was clear: the South would never be the same. The racial and gender structure of society fell apart due to the emancipation of slaves and the failure to protect white women. White men in North Carolina failed to protect white women from starvation, Confederate deserters, black men, and enemy soldiers. The Civil War was the ultimate test of male protection, and men at the individual level and in government failed the white women of North Carolina. Implicit in the Old South’s social structure was the protection of white women from the public sphere. Paternalism promised protection and during the course of the war white men failed to provide this protection. The government did not fill the void. North Carolina had a unique home front experience with the Inner Civil War. Conflicts between deserters and Home Guards created added danger for white women. Governor Vance was fighting two wars and trying to hold together a divided state with food shortages and inflation. In the social order of the South, white women demanded protection and when men and the government failed, the Confederate cause suffered.