With The Weaker Sex in War, Kristen Brill shows how white women’s wartime experiences shaped Confederate political culture—and the ways in which Confederate political culture shaped their wartime experiences. These white women had become passionate supporters of independence to advance the cause of Southern nationalism and were used by Confederate leadership to advance the cause. These women, drawn from the middle and planter class, played an active, deliberate role in the effort. They became knowing and keen participants in shaping and circulating a gendered nationalist narrative, as both actors for and symbols of the Confederate cause. Through their performance of patriotic devotion, these women helped make gender central to the formation of Confederate national identity, to an extent previously unreckoned with by scholars of the Civil War era.

In this important and original work, Brill weaves together individual women’s voices in the private sphere, collective organizations in civic society, and political ideology and policy in the political arena. A signal contribution to an increasingly rich vein of historiography, The Weaker Sex in War provides a definitive take on white women and political culture in the Confederacy.