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Social life in Richmond during the war. [from the Cosmopolitan, December, 1891.

by Edward M. Alfriend.
For many months after the beginning of the war between the States Richmond was an extremely gay, bright, and happy city. Except that its streets were filled with handsomely-attired officers and that troops constantly passed through it, there was nothing to indicate the horrors or sorrows of war, or the fearful deprivations that subsequently befell it. As the war progressed its miseries tightened their bloody grasp upon the city, happiness was nearly destroyed, and the hearts of the people were made to bleed.

During the time of McClellan's investment of Richmond, and the seven days fighting between Lee's army and his own, every cannon that was fired could be heard in every home in Richmond, and as every home had its son or sons at the front in Lee's army, it can be easily understood how great was the anguish of every mother's heart in the Confederate capital. These mothers had cheerfully given their sons to the southern cause, illustrating, as they sent them forth to battle, the heroism of the Spartan mother, who, when she gave her son his shield, told him to return with or on it.

Happy phases to social life.

And yet, during the entire war, Richmond had happy phases to its social life. Entertainments were given very freely and very liberally the first year of the war, and at them wine and suppers were generously furnished, but as the war progressed all this was of necessity given up, and we had instead what were called ‘starvation parties.’

The young ladies of the city, accompanied by their male escorts (generally Confederate officers on leave) would assemble at a fashionable residence that before the war had been the abode of wealth, and have music and plenty of dancing, but not a morsel of food or a drop of drink was seen. And this form of entertainment became the popular and universal one in Richmond. Of course no food or wine was served simply because the host could not get it, or could

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Robert E. Lee (2)
George B. McClellan (1)
Edward M. Alfriend (1)
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