Height of Civil War
1863 - 1864
Through the height of the Civil War, home front support came in many forms from Salem’s citizens. The ladies in town were particularly active. They employed their skills in sewing to create beautiful silk flags for the Salem companies to take into battle. Diaries left by two of the town’s girls, Carrie and Mary Fries, reveal their dedication to sustaining their friends and relatives at war. The sisters mention sewing uniforms, packing care parcels, and putting on fundraisers. Women from Salem also went to the warfront to serve as nurses after the Battle of First Manassas. The town of Salem rallied together rolling bandages, making donations to the Central Committee, and sending Moravian literature to the men away at war.
Though most of the town was solidly behind the Confederacy, there were a few Unionists. The minister of the Salem Congregation, Rev. Francis Holland, made his distaste for the Confederate States known when he left for Pennsylvania in 1863, and did not return at an appointed date, effecting his resignation as minister.
The citizens of Salem suffered many privations and tragedies during the war. The rising cost of goods affected the traditional Lovefeast services held at the church—the scarcity of coffee, sugar and milk prevented food from being served. Many of the men who left for war did not return as Salem’s companies were involved in heavy fighting in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Throughout the war, however, the Salem Female Academy remained open and served families from across the South as a refuge from war. The school’s officials with the help of North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance scoured the state for supplies and food to maintain the students.