Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Confederate Women
Subject of Praise

Butts County (GA) Progress

Your paper of some weeks past was handed to me on sick-bed in McDonough.
I read a suggestion from my brother Wilson Smith on the Women of the Confederacy and I was forcibly impressed. I dare say there is hardly an ex-confederate soldier in Butts county but what would vote to give the monument to the Women of the Confederacy instead of the Soldier, if the Daughters in Butts county decide to build one. And the new idea, the spinning wheel instead of the gun, is grand.
Yes, while other sections are raising the shaft in honor of the men who stood in line with gun and bayonet, let Butts county raise the shaft in honor and memory of the noble women who stood behind the lines and prayed and spun and wove, and buried the dead that were sent home. God bless them, heroines all. Who is it that went through that fearful ordeal that can now meditate upon the sacrifices, suffering and hardships of those mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and keep back the tears?
I can tell you what it was that caused the Confederate soldiers to astonish the world by their endurance of hardships and heroic bravery. It was the mother, wife, sweetheart and sister at home. And who has attempted to write the history of their heroic struggle? No one. And the half can never be told.
A personal explanation will illustrate the cause of the Confederate solders staying in the last ditch until killed or captured. Two years of the war had passed before I was old enough to go. My older brother as well as many neighbors had been brought home shot to pieces and many other dear friends left dead on the battle field. We knew then what it meant to go to the war. The time for my departure had come. My clothes were packed and I, a small boy (stature 5'8"), had put on the Confederate gray. My mother, with tears all streaming down her cheeks, stood in the hall, at the foot of the stairs. Throwing her arms about my neck she said, "Put your trust in God and He will bring you through. I would rather you would die in battle than desert." And those were her last words of farewell.
Too full of emotion to utter one word, I left her with those words indelibly stamped on my conscience and memory. I was at once a man. From that moment I was a changed being.
In all the crack and onslaught of battle I did not stay there because I was brave but because my other told me to. And I know that was the experience of thousands of others who suffered the pangs of hunger, cold and heat, shot and shell, sickness and death, on account of the loved ones at home.
They gave their sons, husbands, and brothers, lovers, all and received back a fragment of battered and torn limbs, and they nursed them back into the greatest industrial struggle the world has even known.
Yes, give the women the monument.

W. F. Smith
Captain, Confederate States of America
McDonough, GA
April 23, 1909

This letter to the editor is copyrighted and published in the book Rival Lovers by William Ferguson Smith, edited by Harriet Stovall Kelley.


  1. Very interesting. The mother's speech just gives me goosebumps.

  2. I shall print it out and give it to my young son, who bears his name. William Ferguson Smith Leithart