Emma Kline: Hoop-Skirt Smuggler During the Siege of Vicksburg

In 1864, 20-year-old Vicksburg resident Emma Kline was arrested by Union officials, who were then occupying the city, perched above the Mississippi River in the state bearing the same name. She was charged with the crime of smuggling, one of a group of women engaged in smuggling much-needed supplies out of Vicksburg and into the area east of the Big Black River, which was still held by the Confederacy.

Image: Vicksburg resident Emma Kline

Union authorities created a photograph of Kline with two of her captors, both members of the 5th Iowa Infantry, and published it in the newspapers as a warning to other women involved with smuggling.

It is doubtful that Emma Kline was ever tried for her crime, but she probably spent some time in the Warren County jail, as did many civilians who angered the Union occupation troops in Vicksburg. The entire Kline family was eventually exiled from Warren County. Emma's father was Nineon  E. Kline a rich planter who lived in the Redbone community south of Vicksburg.[1]

During the American Civil War mothers, sisters and wives had to adjust quickly to the sudden absence of men. They took control of America’s homes, businesses and plantations. Women on both sides fueled their states’ war efforts. They raised money for weapons, supplies and materiel through the aid societies they founded and ran. Others rolled bandages, sewed banners and made uniforms. Women on both the Confederate and Union sides formed spy rings to obtain valuable information .

Some women famously brought fashion into the war effort. Ladies clothing of the era included crinoline the rigid, cage-like structure worn under skirts that, at the apex of its popularity, could reach a diameters of six feet. Some patriotic women capitalized on their cumbersome and cavernous garments, using them to concealing all manner of goods as they passed through enemy lines. On one occasion, a Southern woman managed to conceal inside her hoop skirt a roll of army cloth, several pairs of cavalry boots, a roll of crimson flannel, packages of gilt braid and sewing silk, cans of preserved meats, and a bag of coffee—quite a tally of contraband. A network of rebel women, led by Confederate courier and spy Belle Boyd, crept about Union camps, gathering thousands of unattended sabers and pistols and tying them to the steel coils of their hoop skirts.[2] Belle Boyd smuggled a veritable arsenal of weapons through Union lines in her spacious hoop skirts. Image credit: Warren Heritage Society[3]

Image: Smuggler Belle Boyd in December 1863

SOPHIA Eleanor 'GRAY' MOORE the daughter of United Irishman Nicholas Gray, was a friend of Mrs.Selina M. Crump in Vicksburg. Sophia was a school teacher and next door neighbor of Mrs. Crump. The two letters listed below were written by Sophia Moore, who was looking after Mrs Crump's home in Vicksburg. Sophia in the second letter dated May 12, 1864  apologizes to Mrs. Crump for not sending articles she had been asking for. Since Miss Emma Kline had been incarcerated Sophia was afraid of sending goods out of Vicksburg. Emma Kline was an attractive 20 year old who with a number of other women risk their lives smuggling supplies out of Vicksburg during the Siege. The area called the "Rebeldom" the area east of the Big Black River was still held by the Confederacy.

During Union occupation, mail from civilians living in occupied Vicksburg to family and friends within the Confederate States depended on an arrangement for civilian "Flag-of-Truce" or other through-the-lines mail. The first U. S. Postmaster at Vicksburg after the surrender was Thomas A. Marshall, who was appointed March 8, 1864. Appointment of this postmaster probably opened up the mails to civilians at Vicksburg to mail service in the United States. [4]

Two covers with enclosed letters from the Mrs. Selina M. Crump correspondence provide examples of mail that was carried by civilians through the lines between Vicksburg and Brandon in 1864 - months after Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863. Mrs. Crump was the widow of Robert H. Crump, who served as Mayor of Vicksburg early in the Confederate period. He died at Vicksburg on August 14, 1861. Sometime after her husband's death and probably during the first river siege of Vicksburg May 18–July 27, 1862, Mrs. Crump moved her family to Brandon for safety from the bombardment. Letters dated March 26 and May 12, 1864, were personal communications from Mrs. Sophia Moore, who was a school teacher, next-door neighbor, and good friend of Mrs. Crump when she was living at Vicksburg.[5]

The second cover is addressed to Mrs. Selina Crump at Brandon. Sophia dated the letter at Vicksburg on May 12, 1864. Miss Roach agreed to take this letter. Manuscript notations on the back of the cover show that the letter was examined and approved by military authorities at Vicksburg on May 18th. A manuscript notation on the cover front shows that it was sent in care of Messrs. Tappan & Manlove. (The July 23rd letter indicates that Tappan, a former merchant at Vicksburg, had a store at Brandon). The letter entered the postal system at Jackson on June 1, 1864, and postage was paid with a Confederate 10¢ Blue Engraved, Type, I stamp. The cover was docketed as received on May 29th. Mrs.Crump must have made an error in her docketing if the manuscript June1st date applied at the Jackson post office was correct. In addition to news about family and friends, Sophia apologizes for not sending the articles that Mrs.Crump had been asking for. Sophia says that she was afraid of breaking the laws against sending things out of Vicksburg inasmuch as the authorities were very strict since Miss Emma Kline had been incarcerated.[7]

1. Civil War Women Smugglers by Maggie MacLean
2.Heroines, Smugglers and Spies - The Forgotten Contributions of Women to the American Civil War by MilitaryHistoryNow.com written by Karen Abbott
3. Civil War Women Smugglers by Maggie MacLean
4.Civil War Postal History of Vicksburg, Mississippi by William S. Parks
5. Civil War Postal History of Vicksburg, Mississippi by William S. Parks
6. Civil War Postal History of Vicksburg, Mississippi by William S. Parks
7. Civil War Postal History of Vicksburg, Mississippi by William S. Parks

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Tags: American Civil War, Family History, United States, Women

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