The Cost of Living in the Confederate States

Many pioneer settlers of Ray City, GA served during the Civil War.  While the men were away at war, confederate women were left to deal with the business of operating farms and agricultural industry. But during and after the war, the economy of the south was completely disrupted.

An interesting table of the price of provisions during the Civil War illustrates the failure of southern agricultural productivity and commerce.  The table was published in the 1866 in A journal of hospital life in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, from the Battle of Shiloh to the end of the war: with sketches of life and character, and brief notices of current events during that period, by Kate Cumming.  This journal authored by Kate Cumming, a Confederate nurse, is regarded as “one of the most accurate and vivid accounts of life in Southern wartime hospitals.”

During the four years of the war, commodities like flour went from $8 a barrel to $250 a barrel.  Brown sugar went from 7¢ per pound to $12 per pound; by the last year of the war refined sugar could not be had at any price. By comparison the price of bacon increased a modest 18 fold, going from 21¢ a pound to  $3.75.  

Table showing the dramatic increase in the cost of provisions in the South during the Civil War.

Table showing the dramatic increase in the cost of provisions in the South during the Civil War.

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