He was severely wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg , demoted for "inefficiency," and detailed as a nurse in Atlanta. Russell Mitchell had thirteen children from two wives; the eldest was Eugene, who graduated from the University of Georgia Law School.
Mitchell's maternal great-grandfather, Philip Fitzgerald, emigrated from Ireland and eventually settled on a slaveholding plantation near Jonesboro, Georgia , where he had one son and seven daughters with his wife, Elenor. Mitchell's grandparents, married in , were Annie Fitzgerald and John Stephens; he had also emigrated from Ireland and became a Captain in the Confederate States Army. John Stephens was a prosperous real estate developer after the Civil War and one of the founders of the Gate City Street Railroad , a mule-drawn Atlanta trolley system.
The bride was a fair vision of youthful loveliness in her robe of exquisite ivory white and satin The dining room was decked in white and green, illuminated with numberless candles in silver candlelabras The bride's gift from her father was an elegant house and lot At 11 o'clock Mrs. Mitchell donned a pretty going-away gown of green English cloth with its jaunty velvet hat to match and bid goodbye to her friends.
Margaret Mitchell spent her early childhood on Jackson Hill, east of downtown Atlanta. Stephens had been a widow for several years prior to Margaret's birth; Captain John Stephens died in After his death, she inherited property on Jackson Street where Margaret's family lived. Grandmother Annie Stephens was quite a character, both vulgar and a tyrant.
After gaining control of her father Philip Fitzgerald's money after he died, she splurged on her younger daughters, including Margaret's mother, and sent them to finishing school in the north. There they learned that Irish Americans were not treated as equal to other immigrants, and that it was shameful to be a daughter of an Irishman.
However, for Margaret, her grandmother was a great source of "eye-witness information" about the Civil War and Reconstruction in Atlanta prior to her death in In an accident that was traumatic for her mother although she was unharmed, when little Margaret was about three years old, her dress caught fire on an iron grate. Fearing it would happen again, her mother began dressing her in boys' pants, and she was nicknamed "Jimmy", the name of a character in the comic strip, Little Jimmy.
Having no sisters to play with, Margaret said she was a boy named Jimmy until she was fourteen. Stephens Mitchell said his sister was a tomboy who would happily play with dolls occasionally, and she liked to ride her Texas plains pony. Margaret was raised in an era when children were "seen and not heard".
She was not allowed to express her personality by running and screaming on Sunday afternoons while her family was visiting relatives. But she didn't learn that the South had actually lost the war until she was 10 years of age: "I heard everything in the world except that the Confederates lost the war. When I was ten years old, it was a violent shock to learn that General Lee had been defeated. I didn't believe it when I first heard it and I was indignant.
I still find it hard to believe, so strong are childhood impressions. May Belle Mitchell was "hissing blood-curdling threats" to her daughter to make her behave the evening she took her to a women's suffrage rally led by Carrie Chapman Catt. Margaret's father was not in favor of corporal punishment in school. During his tenure as president of the educational board — ,  corporal punishment in the public schools was abolished.
Reportedly, Eugene Mitchell received a whipping on the first day he attended school and the mental impression of the thrashing lasted far longer than the physical marks. Jackson Hill was an old, affluent part of the city.
The mayhem of the Atlanta Race Riot occurred over four days in September when Mitchell was five years old. Eugene Mitchell went to bed early the night the rioting began, but was awakened by the sounds of gunshots. The following morning he learned 16 Negroes had been killed. He wrote to his wife that rioters attempted to kill every Negro in sight.
As the rioting continued, rumors ran wild that Negroes would burn Jackson Hill. Soon after the riot, Margaret's family decided to move away from Jackson Hill. Past the nearest neighbor's house was forest and beyond it the Chattahoochee River. While "the South" exists as a geographical region of the United States, it is also said to exist as "a place of the imagination" of writers.
She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them.
And she told me that my world was going to explode under me, someday, and God help me if I didn't have some weapon to meet the new world. From an imagination cultivated in her youth, Margaret Mitchell's defensive weapon would become her writing. On Sunday afternoons when we went calling on the older generation of relatives, those who had been active in the Sixties, I sat on the bony knees of veterans and the fat slippery laps of great aunts and heard them talk. On summer vacations, she visited her maternal great-aunts, Mary Ellen "Mamie" Fitzgerald and Sarah "Sis" Fitzgerald, who still lived at her great-grandparents' plantation home in Jonesboro.
An avid reader, young Margaret read "boys' stories" by G. She kept both on her bookshelf even as an adult and gave them as gifts.
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An imaginative and precocious writer, Margaret Mitchell began with stories about animals, then progressed to fairy tales and adventure stories. She fashioned book covers for her stories, bound the tablet paper pages together and added her own artwork. At age eleven she gave a name to her publishing enterprise: "Urchin Publishing Co.
Romantic love and honor emerged as themes of abiding interest for Mitchell in The Knight and the Lady ca. In her pre-teens, Mitchell also wrote stories set in foreign locations, such as The Greaser , a cowboy story set in Mexico.
Seventy girls and boys were the guests of Miss Margaret Mitchell at a fancy dress masquerade yesterday afternoon at the home of her parents Mr. Eugene Mitchell on Peachtree street and the occasion was beautiful and enjoyable. There was a prize for guessing the greatest number of identities under the masks, and another for the guest who best concealed his or her identity. The pretty young hostess was a demure Martha Washington in flowered crepe gown over a pink silk petticoat and her powdered hair was worn high. While the Great War carried on in Europe — , Margaret Mitchell attended Atlanta's Washington Seminary now The Westminster Schools , a "fashionable" private girls' school with an enrollment of over students.
She wrote a play about snobbish college girls that she acted in as well. She hears her older sister being raped and shoots the rapist: . Coldly, dispassionately she viewed him, the chill steel of the gun giving her confidence.
She must not miss now—she would not miss—and she did not. Mitchell received encouragement from her English teacher, Mrs. Paisley, who recognized her writing talent. A sentence, she said, must be "complete, concise and coherent". Mitchell read the books of Thomas Dixon, Jr. During her years at Washington Seminary, Mitchell's brother, Stephens, was away studying at Harvard College — , and he left in May to enlist in the army, about a month after the U.
He set sail for France in April , participated in engagements in the Lagny and Marbache sectors, then returned to Georgia in October as a training instructor. Stephens Mitchell thought college was the "ruination of girls". She saw education as Margaret's weapon and "the key to survival".
Her mother chose Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts for Margaret because she considered it to be the best women's college in the United States. Upon graduating from Washington Seminary in June , Mitchell fell in love with a Harvard graduate, a young army lieutenant, Clifford West Henry,  who was chief bayonet instructor at Camp Gordon from May 10 until the time he set sail for France on July Before departing for France, he gave Mitchell an engagement ring.
On September 14, while she was enrolled at Smith College, Henry was mortally wounded in action in France and died on October The last stanza of Lieutenant Clifford W. Henry's poem follows:. Henry for bravery under fire during the World war.
Henry repeatedly advanced in front of the platoon he commanded, drawing machine-gun fire so that the German nests could be located and wiped out by his men. Although wounded in the leg in this effort, his death was the result of shrapnel wounds from an air bomb dropped by a German plane. Clifford Henry was the great love of Margaret Mitchell's life, according to her brother.