William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis Memoir, 1908
James S. Schoff Civil War CollectionFinding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, November 1995
Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis memoir
Lewis, Susan Bricelin Fletcher
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis was a young wife with a three year old son, and lived in a slave-holding family in Saline County, Ark. Written when in her seventies, almost fifty years after the events, her memoirs of her life during the Civil War consist of a series of semi-connected anecdotes of a Confederate woman's experiences in Arkansas.
The material is in English.
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open to research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis Memoir, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis was a young wife with a three year old son, and lived in a slave-holding family in Saline County, Ark. Long-time residents of Arkansas with family roots in several southern states, the males in her family all enlisted in the Confederate army despite disapproving of the act of secession, leaving Susan alone on the plantation with her son, a niece of her husband's and some "faithful" slaves. Throughout the war, Mrs. Lewis and her dependents suffered from the pillaging of marauding northern soldiers, and was able to see her husband by having him hide in the woods and sneak in at night. By carefully secreting her money and other valuables and smuggling in essential goods underneath their hoop skirts, the women managed to survive, though not always easily.
By 1864, the situation had deteriorated too much for Lewis to remain any longer, and under duress and the threat of being burned out by some rough hewn troops from Iowa, she and her dependents fled to Benton, Ark., a town under union occupation where the Lewises had relatives. Carefully sewing all of the hidden family gold into her petticoats, Mrs. Lewis then obtained a pass through the lines from Gen. Frederick Steele, crossed into Confederate territory, and remained there until the close of the war.
After the war, Mrs. Lewis and her husband settled on a plot of land near Little Rock that had been bequeathed to her by her father. Bitter over the defeat of the Confederacy and the new political liberties granted to former slaves, Mrs. Lewis expressed a contempt for the men who built their fortunes in the Reconstruction economy, and she continued to defend slavery as more a northern sin than southern.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Written when in her seventies, almost fifty years after the events, Susan Bricelin Fletcher Lewis' memoirs of her life during the Civil War consist of a series of semi-connected anecdotes of a Confederate woman's experiences in Arkansas. The memoir is brief, sketchy, and focused on the outrages committed against lone women in the war zone (mostly theft and extortion) and the ingenuity women used to survive. Lewis' experience as a refugee in Benton, and the bitterness she felt so long after the events are particularly interesting.
- Arkansas--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
- Women--Confederate States of America.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction and pillage.
Additional Descriptive Data
Arkansas--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.Benton (Ark.)Contraband of war.Freemasonry.Military occupation--Arkansas.Oath of allegiance.Pillage--Arkansas.Political prisoners.Reconstruction--Arkansas.Refugees.Sick children.Slavery--Arkansas.Smuggling--Arkansas.Soldiers--Iowa.Stealing.Steele, Frederick, 1819-1868.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.Women--Confederate States of America.