Women in the Civil War The Civil War, which lasted for four long years, was a “total war” involving every aspect of society. During this time in one of the bloodiest of wars, northern and southern women were as equally involved as their male counterparts, if not more. Because of this war, women were forced to abandon their traditional roles of the 19th century, and participate in the war effort. Some fearless women disguised themselves as young men, and took on the role of soldiers, in order to show their patriotism. Some of the more cunning women freelanced as spies outside the government sphere, so that they could participate in the war. Others supported the war effort by taking on the roles of nurses who risked their lives on the battlefield; however, most of them worked in hospitals located in the rear. No matter how big or small the role they played during the civil war, the significance of their effort and support broadened beliefs about the abilities of women and what they could achieve outside of the home. One of the more significant roles that women played during the civil war was that of a soldier. Both Union and Confederate armies forbade the enlistment of women, so those that wanted to enlist, crossed gender boundaries and disguised themselves as young men and assumed masculine names. This war was not only a man’s fight, but it was also a woman’s fight. Female civil war soldiers, like the male soldiers, lived in camps, suffered in prisons and died for their respective causes. They were wounded prisoners of war, and killed in action. Going to war was strictly by choice and they were all aware of the risks involved. Many had never fired a rifle before much less contained the understanding of the army way of life, but nevertheless, they still managed and some were very successful. It was estimated that 400 women rolled up their pants, bound their breasts, and cut their hair, in order to enlist with the fighting forces. Among those that joined the Confederate Army ranks was Mrs. Amy Clarke, “who enlisted with her husband and continued service after he was killed at Shiloh. It was not until she was wounded a second time and captured by the Federal that Mrs. Amy Clarke’s gender was detected”. Female soldiers had plenty of guts; they did not faint at the sight of blood, nor did they swoon in unbearably hot weather. They endured the same physical and... ... middle of paper ... ...ty, NY: Hanover House, 1954. The author of this book provided a plethora of biographies, techniques and accomplishments of women, who spied for the Union Army listing the most influential to the least. Markle, Donald C. Spies and Spymasters. New York : Hippocrene Books, 1994. This book gave examples of female spies from both the Union and the Confederate Armies. These examples included the most significant women and the methods they used that are still practiced in espionage today. United States National Park Service. “Clara Barton – Angel of the Battlefield.” Home page on-line. Available from http://www.nps.gov/anti/clara.htm; Internet; accessed 30 July 03. This article provided a brief biography of Clara Barton, to include, her experiences on the battlefield as a nurse during the Civil War and a brief outline of her accomplishments after the war. Zeinert, Karen. Elizabeth Van Lew: Southern Belle, Union Spy. New Jersey. Dillon Press, 1995. The author gave an intimate view of one of the most significant spies during the Civil War with a thorough background of Elizabeth Van Lew, not leaving out her adventures and hilarious techniques used.
Great people often arise from unlikely places. During the civil war women were barred from serving in the army; however, women did sometimes disguise themselves as men and enlisted in both the Confederate and Union armies. During the Civil War years of 1861 to 18-65, soldiers under arms mailed countless letters home from the front. There are multiple accounts of women serving in military units during the Civil War, but a majority of these incidents are extremely hard to verify. Nevertheless, there is the one well-documented incident of the female Civil War soldier by the name of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman.
Within Megan H. Mackenzie’s essay, “Let Women Fight” she points out many facts about women serving in the U.S. military. She emphasizes the three central arguments that people have brought up about women fighting in the military. The arguments she states are that women cannot meet the physical requirements necessary to fight, they simply don’t belong in combat, and that their inclusion in fighting units would disrupt those units’ cohesion and battle readiness. The 1948 Women’s Armed Services Integration Act built a permanent corps of women in all the military departments, which was a big step forward at that time. Although there were many restrictions that were put on women, an increase of women in the U.S. armed forces happened during
The spies of the civil war worked hard and did what they could to help their side. The Union spies were not just made of the women this essay talked about. There were often men and other types of women working to gain information. The job of being a spy can be risky and tough. Most of the spies were behind their enemies lines. The overall goal of their job is to obtain knowledge of what the Confederate Army’s strategy was in order to protect the Union Army. The four spies that played a tremendous aspect during the Civil War were Elizabeth Van Lew, Pauline Cushman, Sarah Thompson, and Sarah Emma Edmonds.
The author of What This Cruel War Was Over does not primarily focus on women in her book, but she does mention that “Few things could more effectively make nineteenth-century white men, North or South, feel that their society was under attack than questioning the behavior or morality of white women,” in considering women’s treatment of Union soldiers. (Manning, 62) In a contradictory statement, Faust notes that “With words, gestures, chamber pots, and even, on occasion, pistols, white women assaulted the enemy in ways that many Southerners celebrated as heroic testimony to female courage and patriotism.” (Faust, 198) These two authors’ research has led them on two very separate paths; however, both used women’s treatment of Union soldiers to further their
When first examining the documentation it is difficult to comprehend whether women were being patronized or treated too delicately; the fact of the matter is the average treatment of women during this era was radically different from society’s attitude toward men. It is also evident women exploited stereotypes to their advantage. Larry G. Eggleston explains the particular viewpoint of American society in Women of the Civil War as “Women were held with respect even though they were considered to be the weaker sex. Many women broke away from society’s traditional view of women when the Civil War began” (1). To avoid detection agents often manipulated social stigmas. Traditionally, Men were expected to join their countrymen upon the battlefield and women were to remain at home attempting to keep order. Some women were equally effective from their posts at home, while acting as scouts for their respected causes.
Female spies were a great help in the war. Men did not expect innocent women to be involved in such dangerous activities so they often were not found out at first. Men easily trusted the women spies and told them important military secrets. The spies would get information then write it on paper or material and sew it into their clothes or put it in their hair. With bigger stuff they would attach it to the hoops on their skirts and hide the stuff in dolls. People started to suspicious when the women spies started to do “inappropriate” actions “such as allowing men into their homes at all hours of the night, arranging meetings with men in various locations and riding on horses and in buggies unaccompanied.”
Until recently, the most basic historiographies of Civil War women were made of three parts. These included Northern women and the lasting consequences of their participation in the Civil War; Southern women, their encouragement or non-encouragement of the Confederate government and military, and their responsibility for the advancement of the Lost Cause; and African American women, whose experiences were a bit difficult to describe for lack of personal accounts.
When all the men were across the ocean fighting a war for world peace, the home front soon found itself in a shortage for workers. Before the war, women mostly depended on men for financial support. But with so many gone to battle, women had to go to work to support themselves. With patriotic spirit, women one by one stepped up to do a man's work with little pay, respect or recognition. Labor shortages provided a variety of jobs for women, who became street car conductors, railroad workers, and shipbuilders. Some women took over the farms, monitoring the crops and harvesting and taking care of livestock. Women, who had young children with nobody to help them, did what they could do to help too. They made such things for the soldiers overseas, such as flannel shirts, socks and scarves.
Many women joined the armed forces in order for the men to launch into combat. They women served as nurses, typists, clerks and mail sorters. Ther...
Female spies were a major part of espionage tactics during both wars. Again, women refused to remain passive and assertively engaged in supporting the war effort; they accepted the danger and repercussions their actions could impose.
Women during wartime situations were so determined to participate in the defense of their country and their homes, they went from performing the traditional duties of cooking, sewing, fixing the weapons for the soldiers to serving as soldiers themselves along side the men. They hid fugitives and even became spies. During World War II and the Vietnam War, women were only allowed to serve as nurses because military leaders did not want to expose women other than nurses to the horrors of combat. Women were not given any form of training and were not permitted to carry weapons which would able them to defend themselves against the enemy. Decisions permitting the deployment of women especially enlisted women, to the combat area was the military habit of over-protection, based on the notion that the women would not be able to cope with the slightest inconvenience without loss of morale and efficiency. It was just this kind of thinking that was continually interjected into the decision-making process when it came to enlisted women, which were often treated as though they were not much brighter than a young child. “The male soldiers, sailors, airmen and hostile wives back home labeled these
Clara Barton’s ‘The Women Who Went to the Field’ describes the work of women and the contribution they made on the civil war battlefield in 1861. Barton highlights the fact that when the American Civil War broke out women turned their attention to the conflict and played a key role throughout as nurses. Therefore, at first glance this poem could in fact be seen as a commemoration of the women who served in the American Civil War as its publications in newspapers and magazines in 1892 ensured that all Civil War veterans were honoured and remembered, including the women. However, when reading this poem from a feminist perspective it can be seen instead as a statement on the changing roles of women; gender roles became malleable as women had the
Both men and women fought on the battlefield. Hundreds of women served as nurses, laundresses, cooks and companions to the male soldiers in the Continental Army.6 In addition, there were some that actually engaged in battle. Seeing "no reason to believe that any consideration foreign to the purest patriotism,"7 Deborah Sampson put on men's clothing and called herself Robert Shirtliffe in order to enlist in the Army. "Robert Shirtliffe" fought courageously; "his" company defeated marauding Indians north of Ticonderoga.8 There is also the valiancy of the water carrier Mary Hays, otherwise known as Molly Pitcher, who took up arms after her husband fell.9 As a six-foot tall woman, Nancy Hart was considered an Amazon Warrior. Living in the Georgia frontier, this "War Woman" aimed and, with deadly accuracy, shot British soldiers who invaded the area.10 Mentioned in the beginning of this essay was Margaret Corbin, another woman on the battlefield.