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How To > Soldier's Aid Societies > Southern Aid Societies

Southern Aid Societies

There were many societies formed to aid Southern soldiers during the Civil War years, In his book, George Roble points out that, "…historians have exaggerated the isolation of antebellum Southern housewives…. the war encouraged larger cooperative efforts, outside the home." Roble goes on to state that South Carolina and Alabama each had about 100 soldiers' relief societies. In all the Southern states there may have been more than 1,000. Still, the formation of the societies was hampered by geography so that many at them were in cities and / or grew fromm existing church groups.

Not every society stayed together until the end of the war. Sometimes they lacked supplies to continue. As the war years stretched on, morale declined. Many disbanded as early as 1862. Some notable ones persisted including the Ladies' Relief Society in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the Ladies Association in Aid of the Volunteers of the Confederate Army in Greenville, South Carolina. Many of these organizations tended to support only soldiers from their own state,

Activities included:

  • Fundraising drives including fairs, tableaus, and outright solicitation of funds. Ladies Gun-boat Societies formed in Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Mobile and Richmond raised money for war materiel.
  • Giving out, supervising, and performing knitting and sewing for the soldiers and hospitals
  • Keeping records of funds and item donated
  • Shipping boxes of relief supplies
  • Meeting trains with refreshments for the troops and aid for the injured or sick
  • Establishing homes and hospitals
  • Corresponding with other groups 

The names and locations of some of these groups were:

  • Society of Center Ridge, Alabama
  • Eutawville Aid Association of South Carolina
  • Charleston Soldiers Relief Association
  • Ladies' Aid Association of Greenville South Carolina
  • Ladies' Relief Association of Spartanburg
  • Mobile Military Aid Society, Alabama
  • Cressy Pond Soldiers' Aid Society, South Carolina
  • Grace Baptist Church sewing society, Richmond
  • Ladies Relief Society, Lynchburg

SOURCES

  • Trials and Triumphs: The Women of the American Civil War, by Marilyn Mayer Culpepper
  • Mothers of Invention, Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust
  • No Idle Hands. The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. McDonald,
  • Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism, by George C. Roble.
  • Interview with Jane B. White, Director, Old City Cemetery