Era Influences

Queen Victoriaca 1860The Bridgeman Art Library

Queen Victoria
ca 1860
The Bridgeman Art Library

Fashion Influence:  Queen Victoria

The monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was extremely influential around the world during a period of high moral purpose, scientific progress and social as well as economic change. Because of global reach, the cultural Victorian influence in the Deep South (CSA) was attributed to Britain’s Queen Victoria.  From fashion to architecture, Victorian Style was at its highest popularity from 1837 to 1901.  Thus, women’s clothing during the Civil War Era (1861 – 1865) mirrors the fashion of the British monarchy.

Black Victorians: Sarah Forbes (Bonetta) Davies

James and Sarah Davies
London (1862)
National Portrait Gallery

Today, there is a revival of interest in Britain and the United States on the subject of Black Victorians during the Victorian Era.  Because of limited sources, one has to draw inspiration from the life of individuals such as Sarah Forbes (Bonetta) Davies, who was known as the adopted daughter of Queen Victoria.

Sally, as she was called by Queen Victoria, was born in West Africa.  Frederick Forbes, a British naval officer, rescued the young Sally from the hands of a West African slave trader and brought her to Queen Victoria. Years later in 1862, Sarah Forbes Benetta’s  prearranged marriage to James Davies provides us with a  brief glimpse into the fashion statement of Black Victorians.  Sally’s eloquent day dress and black headdress suggests the type of period attire possibly worn by Free People of Color during the American Civil War.

Civil War Influence: 57th Georgia Regiment (Confederate States Army)

Members of the57th Georgia Regiment(1863)

Members of the
57th Georgia Regiment

Scott Walker’s nonfiction book, Hell’s Broke Loose in Georgia, provides an account of the day in the life of Confederate Soldiers during the War Between the States. Scott Walker likewise captures the complexity of relationships and the racial dynamics for Scott, the body servant of Lieutenant Archibald McKinley. Upon Confederate Body Servant Scott’s return to Milledgeville, Georgia, we gain a better understanding of the rewards for remaining with Lieutenant Archibald McKinley and the 57th Georgia Regiment until the end of the war.

Civil War Female Influence: Nancy Hart, Confederate Spy

Nancy HartConfederate Spy Cameo

Nancy Hart
Confederate Spy

From a 21st Century woman’s perspective, Nancy Hart demonstrated that women were capable of not only surviving but leading in a male dominated world.  Known as a skilled rider and sharpshooter, Nancy was attached to a Civil War guerrilla group and later served as a Confederate scout and spy.  The attributes which apply to my Georgia persona include:  autodidactic spirit, steadfastness, and resourcefulness.

Sometimes we cannot prevent the hand that life deals us.  However, how we respond becomes the basis for lessons learned throughout the world.  Though Nancy Hart was raised in the mountain range of Roane County, Virginia, she didn’t see her environment as an inhibitor but used it as a training ground.  Where others saw limitations, she turned them into opportunity.