THE CONDUCT OF THE WOMEN.
DURING the latter part of the year in which the war between the States came to an end, a Southern comic writer, in a letter addressed to Artemus Ward, summed up the political outlook in one sentence, reading somewhat as follows: "You may reconstruct the men, with your laws and things, but how are you going to reconstruct the women? Whoop-ee!" Now this unauthorized but certainly very expressive interjection had a deal of truth at its back, and I am very sure that I have never yet known a thoroughly "reconstructed" woman. The reason, of course, is not far to seek. The women of the South could hardly have been more desperately in earnest than their husbands and brothers and sons were, in the prosecution of the war, but with their woman-natures they gave themselves wholly to the cause, and having loved it heartily when it gave promise of a sturdy life, they almost worship it now that they have strewn its bier with funeral flowers. To doubt its righteousness, or to falter in their loyalty to it while it lived, would have been treason and infidelity; to do the like now that it is dead would be to them little less than sacrilege.
I wish I could adequately tell my reader of the part those women played in the war. If I could make these pages show the half of their nobleness; if I could describe the sufferings they endured, and tell of their cheerfulness under it all; if the reader might guess the utter unselfishness with which they laid themselves and the things they held nearest their hearts upon the altar of the only country they knew as their own, the rare heroism with which they played their sorrowful part in a drama which was to them a long tragedy; if my pages could be made to show the half of these things, all womankind, I am sure, would tenderly cherish the record, and nobody would wonder again at the tenacity with which the women of the South still hold their allegiance to the lost cause.