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Malvina Black Gist: Civil Worker in Civil War

By Patricia B. Mitchell

South Carolina Women in the Confederacy, published 1903

Malvina Gist's recollections in A Confederate Girl's Diary are quoted in the 1903 book South Carolina Women in the Confederacy.

In early 1865, Malvina Black Gist, a young war widow, employed by the Confederate Note Department in Columbia, South Carolina, left that state capital to move with her government department to the “safety” of Richmond, Virginia.

As Malvina and other war refugees crowded into Richmond, food shortages became more severe. On March 8, 1865, Malvina wrote in her journal:

March 8. — Wish I had been taught to cook instead of how to play on the piano. A practical knowledge of the preparation of food products would stand me in better stead at this juncture than any amount of information regarding the scientific principles of music. I adore music, but I can't live without eating — and I'm hungry! I want some chicken salad, and some charlotte russe, and some oxpalate, and corn muffins! These are the things I want; but I'll eat anything I can get. Honestly, our cuisine has become a burning question. *

Nowadays we are not in the difficult straits Malvina found, but it is helpful to know how (and why) to cook.


Malvina Black Gist Waring