When will this cruel war be over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, VA, 1864

For Southerners, the Civil War took place in their backyards - literally! The Southern states of the Confederacy fought to maintain their way of life as farmers and slave owners. They felt that Northerners wanted to dictate how they should live. Nearly all men who could join the army did, abandoning their farms and leaving their families to struggle for survival in harsh conditions. Prices of basic supplies and food soared, and many went hungry. Disease plagued both soldiers and those left at home. Southerners found the world as they knew it destroyed by the war, which raged on their doorsteps, as farms lay barren, homes were burned, and loved ones were killed. Those who survived the war faced the humiliation of defeat, adjustment to a world where their former slaves were now their equals, and the monumental task of rebuilding a devastated land.

Meet Emma Simpson

Emma Simpson lived with her family on a plantation in Gordonsville, Virginia. Her family owned slaves, and both her brother and father fought for the Confederacy. Left with her mother and their slaves, Emma recorded the difficulties of her life during the war. She feared for her brother and father, and with her mother, had to run the plantation without them. Read her thoughts on the war and all about her life in her diary.

The war has been going on far longer than anyone thought, so long that I fear we have become accustomed to it. We have grown accustomed to having no men around, accustomed to things we had taken for granted - coffee, ink, flour for baking - all becoming precious, and accustomed to all the gaiety having vanished from our lives. We seem to have lost all hope, as if this is the way it will be forever.