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Womens Influence on the Civil War When the Civil War began in 1861 the Southern womans role changed irrevocably She had been the leader of the home life training the servants keeping the kitchen stocked But with the exodus of the men from the plantations the women instantly became the leaders of their farms which could have more than 150 people on them That was the case on the Millwood Plantation which was northwest of Reddick according to Marion historian Bettie DeBary Almost every duty the women performed was tied to the war They grew crops for the Confederacy even fought for the land their husbands had cultivated Throughout the South women organized groups that made clothes for the men and offered support One such group was the Soldiers Friends Association of Orange Lake Mary Elizabeth Dickinson turned a crimson shawl that was part of her wedding attire into the Marion Light Artillerys flag led by her husband Capt JJ Dickinson Marion women had their jewelry melted down and fashioned into rings to hold the flag to its staff The Marion Light Artillery flag which is today kept in a Richmond Va museum symbolizes the dedication the Southern women had for their war A Georgia woman with no ties to Marion County rescued the flag from Union soldiers The flag was saved by Miss Ella Neal now Mrs John Kelly who concealed it beneath her overskirt while the army was passing John Neal wrote to Ocalas Col John M Martin But for all their devotion to the war daily life for the plantation wives of Marion County became harsh It was a world of cutting trees rolling logs clearing fields growing crops -- and then weaving sewing cooking and caring for the livestock says DeBary president and director of the Marion County Museum of History The elaborate systems of visiting neighbors entertaining guests and changing
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