"The ladies home guard"
Pattie B. Cowles to George S. Bernard, June 5, 1861, George S. Bernard Papers, Acc. 31760, Library of Virginia.
During the first weeks after Virginia men marched off to war, eighteen-year-old Pattie B. Cowles, of Petersburg, corresponded with George S. Bernard, a twenty-three-year-old attorney who during the first months of the Civil War was stationed in Norfolk with a company of Petersburg Rifles. "We will make better friends, better wives and better sisters when all of this is passed, and our Southern Confederacy fully established," she wrote him on June 5 when reflecting on the changes that the war was already making to everybody. "The ladies home guard," she also reported, following an earlier report that the ladies of the city were preparing to learn to shoot, "was so completely corrupted from what I thought to have it, that I have quietly dropped it. It seems that the gentlemen have talked about it an outrageous manner, for one told his wife that if the Young ladies knew how the gentlemen talked about them they would be ashamed of the 'ladies home guard.'"