Go to the Mattresses, Female Edition

New commenter Joe was kind enough to drop some hilarious history here which does not speak well for the shield maiden trope.

During the late stages of the [American Civil] War, the town of LaGrange, Georgia, had an armed all-female militia unit which drilled with weapons and which mustered in the street apparently ready to fight when the Federals arrived. The Yank in command, a gentleman and a diplomat, sent a messenger under a white flag to tell them that their homes would not be burned and that (as I recall) “they could surely do more damage with their eyes than with their old squirrel-rifles”.) Reassured, they stood down. LaGrange was not burned, but in a touch suitable for the worst of novels, the Federal in command later married one of the members of the “Nancy Harts” girl militia unit.

Otherwise: They would have been slaughtered. The Union force was strong enough that the Confederate cavalry fled them; according to a link provided by Dalrock.

In mid-April 1865 Major General James H. Wilson led a Union raid on west Georgia. As the Union troops approached LaGrange from West Point, the local Confederate cavalrymen fled, and the Nancy Harts stepped in to protect the town.

…which was accomplished by entreating the Union soldiers to spare the town, and then surrendering to the strong handsome Union soldiers; even unto the mattress.

6 thoughts on “Go to the Mattresses, Female Edition

  1. Maybe the supposed organisation of the militia was to reassure the women more than anything else; the cavalry couldn’t take the women with them so they were doomed to stay either way.

  2. Cane’s point is that women don’t fight (wars). In that he’s right. I just push back a little on don’t fight. Mostly because NAWALT.

  3. OT: I hope your renovation projects are going well. As time permits, would you address how you establish reasonable expectations of your wife? I have read your descriptions of staying home some days to observe and instruct your wife when she falls behind, but I’m struggling to define the goalpost by which “behind” should be measured. Before our son arrived, we both worked and shared chores more or less equally with typical gender divisions, and things were done well enough. Now that she stays at home, however, many things are neglected, but I don’t think I’m being overly permissive in cutting her slack, seeing as our son is very demanding and she’s still figuring out her new SAHM life without the benefit of an older, wiser woman to help. Still, women used to keep a house while caring for infants, so there must be a way.

  4. @Ryder

    I don’t have enough information to form an educated opinion on your specific situation. The only thing I can say right now is to encourage you to stay involved (as it sounds like you are), make improvements where you can, and to really let slide what you have decided to let slide. You will aggravate yourself and your wife if you fail to let go of what you chose to put off. Likewise, if you don’t really think slack is good in a particular situation, then don’t let it pass.

    OT: I hope your renovation projects are going well.

    I am learning tons. (Translation: I have made many mistakes.)

  5. Thanks. That’s good advice, and as I think about it, probably about as much as can be responsibility given over the internet. Perhaps the biggest mental shift I’m still struggling to make is purging myself of the idea of fairness (i.e., I am able to contribute X amount of productive labor, which relates to the Y value of her doing the laundry) and instead focusing on what she’s capable of as a separate human person with her own strengths and weaknesses.

    As my grandfather used to say, “If it was easy, everybody would do it,” which come to think of it, also applies to home renovations…

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