The Civil War Connections Blog

Slowly Disappearing Were the Days of the Southern Belle

Upon scrolling through the June 1861 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger: A Magazine Devoted to Literature, Science, and Art, I stumbled upon a poem that was likely written just before the onset of the war, but to me, shows the struggle of women during the war. “Fallen” was a submission written in early 1861 by Klosterheim of Alpine, Alabama. I could discover little else about the author or the submission. In reading this poem, though, I reflected on life for the southern woman as the war progressed. This verse fittingly, although likely unintentionally, describes the transformation of the way of life for the young southern belle. Think Scarlet O’Hara as you read. Well, maybe not Scarlet, the diva, but Scarlet, the young optimistic girl. Enjoy!

So regal in her loveliness—
A thing of joy; she stood,
Upon the mystic boundary—
Of guileless womanhood.

From eyes of gentlest meanings, beamed—
Her soul devoid of art;
No angel’s breath could be more pure
Than was her virgin heart,

A year has told its tale of woe;
The ruthless spoiler came,
He breathed a poison in her soul,
A shadow on her name.

And now her lip hath lost its smile,
Her cheek its joyous bloom;
Her chastened soul, hath but a hope—
A hope beyond the tomb.