Watson to Present “Women’s Attitudes towards Secession and the Civil War”
Dr. Mary Wayne Watson, retired Nash Community College Professor and Road Scholar with the NC Humanities Council, will present a program on Sandhills women’s perspectives of the American Civil War. The event, co-sponsored by the Wendell Historical Society, is set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at Wendell Town Hall, Court Room, 15 E. Fourth Street, Wendell, NC. Watson’s presentation is titled “Women’s Attitudes towards Secession and the Civil War.”
Research on the work of her great uncle, North Carolina Poet Laureate John Charles McNeill, as well as her cousin, Gerald White Johnson, noted historian and journalist, both from Scotland County, motivated Watson to look further into her family’s history. In so doing she discovered a series of letters written during the Civil War by her great-grandmother in Scotland County to a family in Moore County.
The program presents a fascinating look at women’s views during the beginning, middle, and end of the Civil War period in North Carolina.
An initially uplifting, idealistic support of the Union as a great experiment in democracy and self-rule ultimately fades into prayers for return of the surviving men as well as hopes for peace, followed by ultimate acceptance of the bitter realities of war on a land and a people crushed in the aftermath. Poignant descriptions of the impact of Sherman’s “scorched earth policy” on a once proud and surprisingly literary Sandhills community remind us once again that war is hell–even when it is brother against sister.
Watson received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has taught at middle schools, high schools, community colleges, and universities in North Carolina and Virginia.