Surviving the Confederacy

Written by John C. Waugh
Review by Kim Murphy

Mr. Waugh states that his mission as a writer is to “revive [history’s] echoes, and rekindle the passion of former days.” I first stumbled across the author by reading The Class of 1846 and can honestly say that he succeeded in his mission. Surviving the Confederacy accomplishes the same goal.

Civil War Virginia comes alive through the eyes of Roger and Sara Pryor. A non-slave owning couple, they were well known and admired in prominent social circles. While Roger was an ardent fire-eating secessionist, Sara was a compassionate but strong-willed woman. Their story is traced from the spawning of the Civil War through Reconstruction, and finally healing and recovery during their later years in New York.

The account is vivid and touching. I especially found Sara’s experience during the siege of Petersburg (America’s longest siege) absorbing. She struggled through the assault with very little food to feed her family, shells falling nearby, and Roger’s capture. Yet through her ingenuity, she discovered ways to make money and put food on the table. Even then, she never lost her generosity. Although she was faced with the prospect of starvation, she used what little money she had to buy a servant, so that he wouldn’t be sent away. As a result, the servant gained his freedom. Highly recommended!