During the American Civil War, "More than twenty thousand women in the Union and Confederate states engaged in relief work…” (Schultz, 2004). These women had certain professional rights and responsibilities to uphold throughout the Civil War. They broke the common Victorian American tradition and volunteered to be Civil War nurses, something that astounded the nation (USAHEC.org). These battle aids nursed the wounded soldiers and performed other tasks to help the soldiers. However, these women were not accepted right away by male doctors in the hospitals.
It was frowned upon in this time period of a woman with her social background to become a nurse. It was actually in the rights for her to marry a man of means, but when Florence was seventeen she declined to marry the man who offered her hand in marriage. She had her reasons for not accepting the proposal, she new she did not have time for a marriage at this time in her life. Despite the disapproval from her parents Florence set out to chase her dreams of becoming a nurse and enrolled as a nursing student at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserswerth, Germany. After graduating, Florence received a job in a Middlesex hospital for ailing governesses (Nash 1925).
“Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others.” Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2003. 102, 103, 104. Print. Scarborough, Ruth and Belle Boyd. “Belle Boyd: Siren of the South.” Macon: Mercer University Press, 1997.
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003. Print. Endres, Kathleen L. "The Women's Press in the Civil War: A Portrait of Patriotism, Propaganda, and Prodding." Civil War History 30.1 (1984): 31-53. Project MUSE.
In The Combat Zone, An Oral history of American Women in Vietnam. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1987. Smith, Winnie. American Daughter Gone to War, On the Front Lines withan Army Nurse in Vietnam. New York: William, Morrow, and Company, Inc., 1992.
Women during the Civil War were forced into life-style changes which they had never dreamed they would have to endure. No one was spared from the devastation of the war, and many lives were changed forever. Women in the south were forced to take on the responsibilities of their husbands, carrying on the daily responsibilities of the farm or plantation. They maintained their homes and families while husbands and sons fought and died for their beliefs. Many women took the advantage of their opinions being heard, and for the first time supported their cause in anyway they could.
Clara Barton was born December 25, 1821 in Oxford Massachusetts. She was the youngest of her 4 siblings in a middle class family, Clara was home schooled until the age of 15, where she excelled in academics before she became a teacher at 17. When Clara was 10 her brother david became ill, Clara nursed him back to health for 2 years after medical doctors gave up this is where she learned her medical beginings. One of the most earliest accomplishments of Clara Barton was to aid the underprivileged kids of her neighborhood by opening a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey.” She started the program in 1852 with six children and very little else, by 1853 there were over 600 children in the program, receiving lessons from teachers housed in locations all over the city”. (http://bordentownhistory.org/) When Clara was unable to run her own school because she was not a man she quit teaching at the school she created and continued to accomplish greater things.
When the American Civil War began on April 12th, 1861, over 3 million Union and Confederate soldiers prepared for battle. Men from all over America were called upon to support their side in the confrontation. While their battles are well documented and historically analyzed for over a hundred years, there is one aspect, one dark spot missing in the picture: the role of women in the American Civil War. From staying at home to take care of the children to disguising themselves as men to fight on the battlefield, women contributed in many ways to the war effort on both sides. Though very few women are recognized for their vital contributions, even fewer are The women during the war felt an obligation to assist in one form or another.
Women would cross-dress to fight alongside the men. This was common along the war front as women wanted to accompany their husbands or other family in battle, and some wanted to be patriotic and serve for their country. These women put their lives on the line and played the part of a comrade in war, and people believed them until they were discovered and sometimes sent back home. Although women had small roles as nurses, those who took on the important role of secretly becoming soldiers in battle ultimately changed women’s roles in society. The decision to cross-dress wasn’t very easy for many women who joined the army, however for some they felt it was absolutely necessary.
Washington D.C.: Library of Congress, 1995. Print. McEuen, Melissa A. Making War, Making Women: Femininity and Duty on the American Home Front, 1941-1945. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.