Lucy Pickens Portrayed on Confederate Currency


On December 2, 1862, the Confederate government issued $100 notes bearing a portrait of the renowned Southern beauty Lucy Pickens. Pickens was known during and after her lifetime as the "Queen of the Confederacy." 

Lucy Holcombe was born in 1832 in Tennessee. Between 1848 and 1850 the Holcombes moved to Wyalucing plantation in Marshall, Texas. Lucy became highly acclaimed throughout the South for her "classic features, titian hair, pansy eyes, and graceful figure." In the summer of 1856 she met Francis Wilkinson Pickens, twice a widower and twenty-seven years her senior. Her acceptance of his marriage proposal, it is said, hinged on his acceptance of a diplomatic post abroad. President James Buchanan appointed him ambassador to Russia, and Pickens and Lucy were wed in 1858 at Wyalucing.

Lucy was a favorite at the Russian court, but Pickens resigned his diplomatic post in the fall of 1860 in anticipation of the outbreak of the Civil War. Upon his return home he was elected governor of South Carolina.  

By selling the jewels that had been given her in Russia, Lucy helped outfit the Confederate Army unit that bore her name, the Lucy Holcombe Legion.

Described as "beautiful, brilliant, and captivating" by her male contemporaries, Pickens helped shape the sterotype of the "Southern belle." Her portrait was also used on the one-dollar Confederate notes issued on June 2, 1862.

She died a widow at her home on August 8, 1899.

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