Baptists and the American Civil War: December 26, 1865

A portrait of Southern White Women by Genevieve Cowles, 1897 (Library of Southern Literature)

A portrait of Southern White Women by Genevieve Cowles, 1897
(Library of Southern Literature)

As white Southerners try to move on with their lives as best as possible, the ladies of Virginia’s (white) Manchester Baptist Church sewing circle enjoy a special dinner and women’s program this day. Many lost family members to the war — husbands, sons or brothers.

The day prior the Richmond Daily Dispatch announced the event:

“The ladies of the Manchester Baptist Church are preparing to give a grand supper to-morrow night. Ample provisions will be made, and everything that is nice and tempting will await those who attend. In addition to the large collection of edibles, we learn that the occasion is to be enlivened by music, vocal and instrumental. The programme is a most inviting one. Those who go may confidently expect a delightful evening”

The day after the event the newspaper thus describes the party:

“The Festival at the Manchester Baptist Church last night, was a decided success, and gave entire satisfaction to the large concourse of persons in attendance. The music was very good — the supper everything that the most fastidious epicure could desire — and the ladies as beautiful and attractive as the fair daughters of Manchester always are. The ladies of the sewing circle of the church deserve great praise for the manner in which the festival was gotten up, and we are pleased to know that their labors have met with a satisfactory pecuniary reward, as well as the grateful thanks of all who were fortunate enough to be present last evening”

The sewing circle party is one glimpse in the post-war world of white Virginians, a world in which those who yet have the means, Baptists included, are determined to make the best of the circumstances.

Sources: “Festival,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 25, 1865 (link); Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 27, 1865 (link)