“A Rebel Though She Be”: Gender and Missouri’s War of the Households

  • LeeAnn Whites


In June of 1863, Anne Ewing Lane boarded a horse car with her young niece in order to visit a friend who lived in another neighborhood in St. Louis. As she began to read the local newspaper, a woman sitting nearby on the car interrupted her, asking if there was any news of the war. Anne Lane replied that there was not, but the woman continued to ply her with questions. Was Richmond not taken? Did she think General Price, commander of the Missouri Confederate forces, was in nearby Jefferson County? If not, did she think he was coming? To each question, Anne Lane indicated that she knew nothing, or that the persistent and rather invasive stranger certainly knew as much as she did. Finally, as she wrote to her sister, Sarah Lane Glasgow, “ ... thinking the catechism had gone far enough, I began to talk to Baby and turned a deaf ear to my inquisitive friend.” Anne Lane was no fool, after all, she wasn’t simply being rude, she was sure that she knew a spy when she saw one. As she continued in her letter, “they have a Ladies Loyal League here, the members of which are sworn to visit suspected sympathizers and report anything they may be induced to say ... A nice state of affairs, don’t you think?”1


Political Connection Male Head Union Officer Innocent Victim Gender Order 
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  1. 2.
    This war between the women has gone largely unnoted by historians although the picture of southern as “she devils” and the intense loyalty of women on both sides has been discussed at some length. Reid Mitchell, The Vacant Chair: The Northern Soldier Leaves Home (New York, Oxford University Press, 1993), 89–114Google Scholar
  2. Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion, Northerners and the South (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 13–38Google Scholar
  3. Charles Royster, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans (New York, Vintage Press, 1993), 86–87Google Scholar
  4. L. P. Brockett, Womans’ Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience (Philiadelphia, Zeiger, McCurdy & Co., 1867), 781.Google Scholar
  5. Hannah Stagg, “Local Incidents of the Civil War,” in Missouri Historical Society Collections, vol. 4, 1912–1913, 63–72Google Scholar
  6. Paula Coalier, “Beyond Sympathy: The St. Louis Ladies Aid Society and the Civil War,” Gateway Heritage 11, no. 1 (Summer 1990): 39–51.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    William Glasgow Bruce Carson, “Anne Ewing Lane,” Missouri Historical Bulletin 21, no. 2 (January 1965): 87–99Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    The Civil War as unexpectedly and frequently wrenchingly transformative of womens’ peacetime roles regardless of region, class, or race is a longstanding and central theme in the study of women and the Civil War. See, e.g., Judith Ann Giesberg, Civil War Sisterhood; Elizabeth D. Leonard, Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War (New York, WW Norton, 1994)Google Scholar
  9. Mary Elizabeth Massey, Bonnet Brigades (New York, Knopf, 1966)Google Scholar
  10. Nancy Bercaw, Gendered Freedoms: Race, Rights and the Politics of the Delta, 1861–1875 (Gainesville, FL., University of Florida Press, 2003) 19–50Google Scholar
  11. Victoria Bynum, Unruly Women: The Politics of Social Control in the Old South (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 111–150Google Scholar
  12. Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: War of the Slaveholding South in the Civil War (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  13. LeeAnn Whites, The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860–1890 (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    St. Louis Missouri Democrat, February 11, 1862. See also February 4, 1862. On guerilla warfare in the state, see Michael Fellman, Inside War: The Guerilla Conflict in Missouri during the Civil War and on the particular experience of southern sympathizers in St. Louis, see Louis S. Gerteis, Civil War St. Louis (Lawrence, KA, University of Kansas Press, 2001), 169–201.Google Scholar

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© LeeAnn Whites 2005

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  • LeeAnn Whites

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