The role of women during the civil war The role of women during the nineteenth century was

supposed to be that of submissive mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends. They were supposed to uphold the moral values of the nation and to behave in a virtuous manner. Their primary role was to take care of their families and houses rather than to engage in public issues. Women were educated to obey the male figure in charge of the house; for example their fathers or their husbands. The ones belonging to the upper classes were a good example of this way of living, but for those belonging to the lower classes this was a bit different. Most of these women had to help their families, not only by doing the housekeeping, but also, sometimes, by having jobs outside their homes (Blanton, 2010). This means that even though women were believed to be fragile, subordinate and passive, their role during the American Civil War proved that this was very different.


“the doctrine of separate spheres” and “the canon of domesticity”. 2010). sell or transfer. put on uniforms and went into battle”. pure. The second code glorified a woman’s role as mother and wife (USLegal. Women could only be nurses. 2010). they engaged in the bloodiest war that Americans fought. 1966). engaged in heinous battle and died heroically. others wanted to earn some money. The society was also against these ladies because they rejected the Victorian Social Constrains3 and tried to live as men did. not worthy of voting or owning property. Sixth Edition. because they are a gist from the creator to the individual and can not under any circumstance be surrendered or taken. “hundreds of women assumed men identities. domestic and submissive (Welter. (Blanton. 2 3 Turing the Victorian Era. This is the case of Bell Willey and Mary Massey. 337. Willey (1951. spies. provisions and liqueurs to soldiers. some Americans believed that “women soldiers were eccentric and their presence isolated”. or any Lumber of “inalienable rights”. Some women wanted to be with their husbands. As Blanton states “both armies forbade the enlistment of women”. suttlers2 or brave ladies that maintained the home front in the absence of their men (Blanton. The first writer. and for the rest. The first code defined the middle class woman as pious. the US Army in 1909 informed that “no official record has been found showing that any woman was ever enlisted in the military service of the 1 A French army term applied to women who provided food. page 1523) 2 . Even though textbooks hardly ever said anything related to these women. vivandieres1. 339) refers to them as “freaks and distinct types”. some writers have mentioned this topic. and Massey (1994. Without paying attention to this prohibition. Peddlers who sold goods to military units in the field. because they believed that women should stay at home. patriotism was what mobilized them (Blanton. This assumption is not correct because American women had true feelings for their country and for this reason. 1984). What is more. 2010). As Blanton included in her site. The American society was influenced by three major codes of conduct related with how a woman should behave: “the cult of true womanhood”. believed that the natural places for women were their homes and families (Baker. women were believed to be lower class citizens. 2010) The reasons why they did this were very different. taking care of their families and obeying their duties. while the last one. (Black’s Law Dictionary. Rights that you can not surrender.Women soldiers of the Civil War It is commonly believed that during the Civil War men were the only ones that marched off to war. 84) erroneously asserted that “probably most of them were prostitutes or concubines”.

1866 and remained there until October 4th. 2010). she reenlisted as a different man. who were not only white but also slave women. they would not have been able to participate in it. They left aside their society’s believes and marched off to war. and it was not until 1913 that a surgeon discovered that he was a woman (Blanton. While most of them remained there. This confirms the idea that women were not supposed to fight in the war. they had to go home (Blanton. after being discovered and discharged. This is the case of Frances Hook (Blanton. women entered in the field of medicine. This is the case of Cathay Williams. During the war time Miss Barton gave the troops bandages and other supplies. she was captured and imprisoned. J. antiseptics were unknown. By doing this. who enlisted in the war with her brother because both of them were orphans. There are a lot of kinds of these ladies (Blanton. Another major contribution 3 . She enlisted on November 15 th. and the most important thing she did was to assist the surgeons. 2010). Cashier did. the relationship between dirt and infection was generally not understood. hospitals were inadequate. 2010) Most of the ladies who fought during the civil war did it dressed as men because if not. others decided to try it again and reentered the army. 2010). Women and medicine At the outbreak of the war. but as she did not have neither relatives nor a home. Some of these ladies were quickly discovered and only remained in the army for two weeks after which. He was able to draw a pension. Exemplar women The number of women that fought during the Civil War did not affect its outcome.United States (…)” (Documents 158003). Her captors realized about her real identity and decided to exchange her. but this was the first time that women got involved in public affairs. who worked as a house-girl until the Union Soldiers liberated her. (Wilson. 1868. One of the most important figures to make big contributions in this field is Clara Barton. After her brother was killed in action. 2010). nursing service was primitive and relied on quite untrained male nurses. What is more. she also helped them to prepare food and bring water. and so on. which until those days had belonged only to men. She was discharged by the Army. that they should stay at home taking care of their families. Not all of these women served the entire war as Albert D.

made by Miss Barton was the settlement of the Red Cross4 in the United States to provide aid for natural disasters (Wilson. she gave her live serving her country. 4 . subordinate or passive. She. that is to say. fought for what she believed was the correct thing to do. as a woman. it was chartered to provide human services to all victims Turing wartime under a flag of neutrality. 4 Created in 1864. like the women soldiers. All of Miss Barton actions were real proofs that she. was not frail. 2010).

With their actions they proved that they were brave. 2010). Women proved to be courageous soldiers.Conclusion In this paper I included examples and information to support the hypothesis set at the beginning. They were able to overcome the period of war and then. frail. 2010). go on with their lives. they fought as if they were men. active. subordinate and passive was wrong. that the American Society characterization of women during the Civil War as submissive. intelligent. 5 . overcoming their physical needs. what is more. no one imposed their will upon them (Blanton. and that they had true feelings towards the nation where they lived (Blanton. They were also independent and took their own decisions.  Blanton. NA Massey. 1821 – 1912. 1951. Founder American Red Woman were there. The American Historical Review 1984.jstor. Mary Elizabeth.References  October 2010. RG94. 6 . 8 June 2010 Records and Pension Office file 184934.  Captain Wilson.jstor. University of Nebraska Press. 3 October 2010 http://definitions. Women Soldiers and nurses of the American Civil War. 3 http://www. Barbara A. Web. Bell  Willey. Clara Barton. (1966) Web. Doubleday & Co  Welter. Paula.  Documents numbered 158003. Jean V.html  Cross. Barbara. Web. Pages 337. 3 June 2010 http://americancivilwar. Civil War Nurse. 3 June 2010 http://americancivilwar. DeAnne. The Cult of true womanhood: 1820-1860. 3 October 2010 http://links. Page 371   USLegal.aug. Berlin. Web. Women in the civil War. The life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union. Web.

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