When Confederate men marched off to battle, southern women struggled with the new responsibilities of directing farms and plantations, providing for families, and supervising increasingly restive slaves. Drew Faust offers a compelling picture of the more than half-million women who belonged to the slaveholding families of the Confederacy during this period of acute crisis, when every part of these women's lives became vexed and uncertain. Faust chronicles the clash of the old and the new within a group that was at once the beneficiary and the victim of the social order of the Old South.Faust draws on the eloquent diaries, letters, essays, memoirs, fiction, and poetry of some 500 of the Confederacy's elite women to show that with the disintegration of slavery and the disappearance of prewar prosperity, every part of these women's lives became vexed and uncertain. The prerogatives of whiteness and the protections of ladyhood began to dissolve as the Confederacy weakened and crumbled. Exploring privileged Confederate women's wartime experiences as wives, mothers, nurses, teachers, slave managers, authors, readers, and survivors, this book chronicles the clash of the old and the new within a group that was at once beneficiary and victim of the social order of the Old South.