The Impact of the American Civil War on Post-War Marriage

Libra R. Hilde, San Jose State University
J. David Hacker, Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY)
James H. Jones, Stanford University

Over 600,000 men died in the American Civil War--roughly equal to the number of deaths suffered in all other American wars through the Korean War combined. In this paper, we investigate the impact of wartime mortality on subsequent nuptiality through a microsimulation coupled with an empirical investigation of age at marriage and proportions ever marrying in the 1850-1880 IPUMS samples. We construct microsimulations, indices of the intensity of the postwar marriage squeeze (including the marital sex ratio and Schoen's index), and nuptiality estimates for each census region. We focus our discussion, however, on the postwar South, which lost an estimated 1-in-4 white men of military age in the conflict--three times the rate of death in the North. Diaries, letters, and memoirs of nurses, soldiers, and people on the home front supplement the analysis and confirm the presence of a developing marriage squeeze on southern white women.

Presented in Session 155: Historical Analysis of Families and Households