The Piedmont area of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, Virginia, near the Maryland border, was hotly contested throughout the Civil War. In the Shadow of the Enemy vividly chronicles one elite woman's experiences on the home front of this dangerous locale.
The mistress of a slave-holding estate, Ida Powell Dulany took over control of the extensive family lands once her husband left to fight for the Confederacy. She struggled to manage slaves, maintain contact with her neighbors, and keep up her morale after her region was abandoned by the Confederate government soon after the beginning of hostilities.
More than just an elegantly written account of her own day-to-day experiences in the Civil War, Ida's journal also shows us much about how her community dealt with extreme conditions. It opens a window into the Southern culture of the time, demonstrating the importance of community, the locals' unwavering faith in God and the righteousness of the Confederate cause, and their universal demonizing of Union soldiers. On a personal level, Ida's writings reveal a courageous woman who, despite her vulnerability and isolation, refused to be intimidated in numerous confrontations with Union soldiers.
The editors' introduction explains how Ida's background shaped her and discusses her marriage to Hal Dulany, which was an atypical relationship for the time-one in which Hal viewed Ida as an intelligent partner. They also provide a brief overview of the relevant military history, including an examination of the role of the "Gray Ghost," John S. Mosby, in the area. To put Ida's writings into further context, the editors have interspersed helpful timelines throughout the diary, highlighting the key events that occurred over the course of the larger conflict.
A fascinating addition to the Voices of the Civil War series, this new book is sure to appeal not only to scholars and students of the era but also to women's history specialists, genealogists, and local historians.
Mary Le Jeune Mackall spent her early years at Blenheim, a pre-Revolutionary farm near Charlottesville, which inspired her lifelong interest in Virginia history. She and her husband divide their time between Alexandria and Selby, the family farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, where they are engaged in planting native grasses, restoring streams, and operating an environmentally sensitive farming operation.