Domestic Economy in the Confederacy

From an 1886 Atlantic Monthly article by David Dodge

            Iron was now the precious metal. War not only monopolized the entire product of the South, but so sore was the need that frequent calls were made for plantation hells to be cast into cannon. Many church bells were also given. In the cry for iron! iron! a large society of ladies undertook to furnish material for building an iron-clad by collecting all the broken pots, pans, and kettles in the Confederacy. The home folk had to depend almost entirely on the reworking of old iron. An active and unremitting search was maintained for every superfluous or cast-away scrap. All old vehicles and farm implements not absolutely indispensable were demolished, and the iron they contained was diverted to the pressing needs of the moment. All idle nails were carefully drawn and laid away for future use. A sharp lookout was kept for stray pins. Womenkind made their boast of the weeks or months they had passed without missing a single pin; while the loss of a good darning-needle would have been a calamity involving perhaps half a neighborhood. The rapidity with which such indestructible articles as pins, needles, buttons, etc., disappeared from the face of the earth after the blockade was established was as unaccountable as the speed with which larger things wore out. Many a hard-beset housewife, in her distress, “vowed,” and half believed, that the Yankee manufacturers, with a prophetic eye to the future, had purposely made the wares sent South of the most worthless description, in order that their collapse might embarrass us in the prosecution of the war.


Dodge, David; “Domestic Economy in the Confederacy,” The Atlantic Monthly,  Volume 58, Issue 346; pp. 229-243; August 1886; Boston: Atlantic Monthly Co.

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