Achievements of women in it are untold”
Women of the War, 1867
When we hear the names, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin or George Washington, we can immediately identify these men as noble leaders and celebrated heroes who made extraordinary contributions during the fragile infancy of our country. These men and many others unselfishly risked their lives to fight for a united nation in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. However, do the names Philis Wheatley, Jenny Hodges or Sybil Ludington inspire the same recognition and admiration for their unprecedented sacrifices for the same “cause”? The answer may be “no” and, unfortunately, it would be expected.
History books tend to relegate major credit to “men” for our country’s freedom and independence. There is no disputing that key male figures, like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, led masses of troops into battle and composed monumental doctrine that has changed our history forever. However, we must recognize that these were not one-gender wars and women played an extremely significant role in the war effort.
The impact of women in the Revolutionary War and Civil War have been underrated and consequently, inadequately represented in history textbooks compared to their male counterparts. These women exemplified “patriotic passion”, unwavering in their commitment to win America’s independence and create “one nation under God.”
History tends to applaud the heroics of men in war, but there are few examples that cite the courage women displayed. We need to be vigilant when we remember that women deliberately made the choice to fear for their personal safety and even risk their lives t...
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...telligence while peddling wares or providing food in enemy camps.
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.
In order to attain valuable military information, these woman spies would flirt with male soldiers at parties, dinners or social events. Sometimes, they would simply listen in on conversations in hotel lobbies; messages were hidden within their corsets or parasols. These spies additionally would smuggle ammunition or medical supplies across enemy lines by concealing them under their large hoop skirts. Both wars hailed notorious spies, while most were never detected. These were female volunteers whose fearless maneuvers effectively influenced the course of the wars.
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