Author: Amy Murrell Taylor

who is an associate professor of history at the State University of New York, Albany

Family Life during the Civil War

Family life in Virginia and across the South suffered devastating effects during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Few households, whether slave or free, or located in the Tidewater, Piedmont, or mountainous Southwest, could remain insulated from a war fought on their lands and in their towns. Many families were uprooted as they witnessed the destruction of their homes and landholdings. Most profoundly, all families dealt with the ordeal of separation. The war pulled white families apart in unprecedented ways, as a large proportion of men enlisted and fully one in five white men who fought for the Confederacy died. And while the chaos of war similarly dispersed the state’s large population of African Americans, it also offered a chance for those families to overcome the longstanding separations wrought by slavery.