SOUTHERN BELLE

Cover illustration, Harper’s Weekly, September 7, 1861.

When farmers in Iowa or stevedores in New York City enlisted in the Union army to suppress the rebellion of the Southern states, it was for many of them like going to battle against a foreign nation.  Northern periodicals depicted exotic creatures like the “Southern Belle” in order to educate them about nominal countrymen who had suddenly become foes.

Stereotypes they might have encountered in books and plays now loomed as realities they might have to confront face to face, in the flesh.  It must have been a bewildering prospect, unsettling and exciting at the same time.

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