The American Civil War claimed the lives of over 622,000 men between 1861-1865. 210,000 were Hoosiers or called Indiana Home. With the heavy toll of war a Lady of Charity from 1865 would be in mourning over her family, friends and on April 15, 1865 we would grieve the death of our commander and chief President Lincoln.
The mourning period for women lasted for at least one year and could continue for up to two and a half years. Mourning was done for different amounts of time determined by who had died. They are as follows:
*For a husband, a period of 1-2 1/2 years
*Six months to one year for a parent
*Six months to a year for children over 10 years old
*Three to six months for children under 10
*Infants were mourned for at least 6 weeks
*Siblings 6 to 8 months
*Aunts and uncles 3-6 months
*Cousins 6 weeks to 3 months
*Grandparents were mourned for 6 months
Socially, women did not accept invitations and received no one was to visit entertainment purposes. After the appropriate period of time, a grieving woman would send out invitations to friends and neighbors when her grieving period was over. It was typical that a woman during 1861- 1865 would wear mourning clothes duration of the war as many of their family members were killed in battle. Unlike the aristocrats, few Indiana women could afford to purchase black clothing specifically for mourning, so practice of dyeing was employed This included not only a dress, but also undergarments, a handkerchief and a veil. Most mourning dresses were made of wool or cotton under sleeves are still used and faux collars are still popular. Widows stayed at home for a long period of time after the death and especial when rain threatened to bleed their garments of the black dye.
A grieving women would often carry a posy or herbal nose gay during the wake, burials, or to the hospital tent of the battle field. A posy might contain ingredients from their kitchen garden such as sage, mint, and Lilly of the valley when available. Tied to their wrist or hand a lady would raise it to her nose to fend off the odors of death and decay.