The Civil War was extremely difficult on the family unit. Typically, the father and eldest sons were the primary breadwinners, and families suffered great hardship when they left home to fight. After the war, 620,000 of these fathers and sons did not return. Thousands of those that did return home were wounded and maimed. As a result, many women found themselves widowed and alone, running farms, plantations, and businesses. Countless women spent the rest of their lives nursing the permanent physical and psychological wounds of their husbands and sons.
In hundreds of families, brother was indeed pitted against brother and father against son. The divided family was a reality and symbolic of a divided nation. Even husbands and wives were sometimes split in their loyalties. The effects of the Civil War on the family were long-lasting and permeated many aspects of everyday family life for generations after the fighting stopped.