The Civil War turned the genteel world of Virginia society upside-down for Sallie Brock Putnam. She lived in the Confederate capital of Richmond throughout the war and saw it transformed from a quiet town of culture to a swollen refugee camp, black-market center, prison venue, and hospital complex. As the smoke from nearby battlefields drifted into town, swaggering young soldiers and ambulance trains filled the streets. Putnam describes the excitement of secession giving way to sacrifice and grim determination, the women of Richmond aiding the war effort, the funerals and hasty weddings, the reduced circumstances of even the "best" families, and the despicable profiteering. Asserting that "every woman was to some extent a politician," she offers keen analyses of military engagements, criticizes political decisions, and provides accounts of the Richmond Bread Riot of 1863 and the inauguration of Jefferson Davis that have been praised by historians. The war brought the battlefield into the house, forcing women into unaccustomed roles and forever changing the old social order.