|dc.description.abstract||For the past century and a half, the Civil War has been the
subject of much scholarly work. This has included, but not been
limited to, an examination of the various aspects of American society,
economics, and politics that underwent radical transformation
during wartime. On an individual level subtle changes also occurred,
creating a noticeable trend within the daily lives of those living in
mid-nineteenth century, war-torn America. The lives of individuals,
specifically their personal relationships, often suffered during this
period of national duress. Relationships between family members,
friends, and spouses were influenced in both positive and negative
ways. But marriages were perhaps most affected because of the
dramatic alteration of gender roles during the war years, which often
caused strain. On a more intimate level, married couples during the
Civil War, primarily those in the South, experienced fierce loyalty and
love as well as power struggles, role reversals, heartbreak, and death.
One such marriage was between the famed General George
Pickett and his third wife, Sally Corbell. While he had two earlier
marriages, his third and final marriage no doubt affected him
the most as it lasted through the Civil War and into the post-war
years. His wife, Sally, played an imperative role in their marriage
and in the creation of Pickett’s legend. However, she was also his
confidant as evidenced by Sally’s extreme devotion to her husband.
This is portrayed through her idyllic writings of their marriage,
which neglected the sordid details of Pickett’s post-war life. He
returned from the war a bitter drunkard who was in poor health.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Sally “became his comfort and support
when things went terribly wrong” (Bleser and Gordon 79). A series
of correspondences written by Pickett to Sally during the Civil War
perfectly illustrate the important role Sally played in Pickett’s life.
These letters have received much attention from scholars, although
the validity of the documents is uncertain since they may have been
written as a result of Sally’s attempts to “[promote] her mythical
husband and their mythical marriage” (Bleser and Gordon 85). The
letters, though they may have instances of falsification, are still widely
accepted and Pickett’s undisputed love for Sally is quite evident.
But the letters also serve the purpose of telling a larger tale, one
that focuses on the dynamics of marriages during the war. General
Pickett’s letters provide a new perspective on women as supporters,
confidants, and essential contributors to the preservation of marriages
and families, during trying times.||eng