Author Kim Murphy, has written a new book titled “I Had Rather Die: Rape in the Civil War” which takes a rare look at violence against women during the Civil War, according to the Fairfax Times:
“In her book, Murphy contends that in many cases, the judicial system worked against these women: overturning guilty verdicts, reducing sentences to the equivalent of a wrist slap, and in many cases, denying even the possibility of truth in their accusations.
An Illinois native, Murphy said her interest in the Civil War began when she moved to the Charlottesville area in 1990. ‘I have always loved history, but I didn’t get interested in the Civil War until I moved to Virginia and realized that I was sometimes standing right where a battle had happened,’ she said. ‘That was inspiring.’
In 2001, she wrote a fiction trilogy about a Civil War-era Fredericksburg woman who was a smuggler. From there, she continued her Civil War writing with a fictitious ghost story.
‘What I discovered was that the few historians who bothered to mention violence against women during the Civil War consistently referred to it as a ‘low-rape’ conflict,’ she said. ‘In general, historians contended that although they perpetrated all sorts of pillaging and other wrongdoing, Civil War soldiers maintained ‘gentlemanly restraint’ when it came to the treatment of women. I began to seriously question that, and began researching it for myself.’
Utilizing trial records from the National Archives’ Courts-Martial, Murphy said she accumulated about 400 cases of rape and attempted rape during the war that she used as the basis for her new nonfiction book. Because Confederate records are more difficult to come by, most are cases of Union soldiers attacking southern women, she said, but not all.”
Murphy has written a number of fiction books, including Civil War ghost stories and a book about witch trials in 17th century Virginia, but this is her first nonfiction book.
Murphy will be making appearances to promote the book at several festivals this spring and summer, including the 150th Battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania re-enactment in Virginia in May and the 150th Battle of Trevilian Station re-enactment in Virginia in June.
Fairfax Times; Virginia Author’s Book Outlines Civil War Sexual Atrocities; Gregg MacDonald; February 7 2014: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20140207/NEWS/140209481/1064/virginia-author-x2019-s-book-outlines-civil-war-sexual-atrocities&template=fairfaxTimes