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Women and the Civil War


They thought it inappropriate for women to see male naked bodies and to be surrounded by the gore of the battlefield. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Women and the Civil War

Women and the Civil War
  • By Courtney Dahl

Women Soldiers
  • With the start of the Civil War came the
    recruitment of men in to the Union and
    Confederate armies. Fathers, husbands, sons, and
    brothers all left their women forgotten at home.
    Women, feeling neglected and alone, wanted to
    support the war effort and be with their husbands
    so many disguised themselves as men and enlisted
    in the military.

(No Transcript)
How did they do it?
  • Because of the poor health examination
    standards, women could easily be allowed in to
    the army and would use cloths to bind their
    chests as well as padding around their middles to
    appear more muscular. Because women were
    registered under male names, it is unclear how
    many women soldiers there really were. A rough
    estimate is around 400 while some say the number
    was many times larger than that. Women were
    represented in all three main branches of the
    army (infantry, cavalry, and artillery), a
    surprising number of them advancing through the
    ranks to become sergeants, and in some cases
    officers, until wounded, killed, or being found
    out through some other extreme circumstance. Many
    women were even discovered because their
    mannerisms gave them away. The way they tied
    their shoes or wrung out a dish towel were all
    tell tale signs of their true gender.

Civil War Nurses
  • Approximately two-thousand women in the Union
    and the Confederacy served as volunteer nurses
    during the Civil War. Seeking direct involvement
    in the war, women dedicated their time to caring
    for the wounded and the sick on and off the

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The Angels of the Battlefield
  • In the beginning men were outraged at the very
    thought of women working as nurses in the Civil
    War. They thought it inappropriate for women to
    see male naked bodies and to be surrounded by the
    gore of the battlefield. But women went right on
    tending to the sick and experienced firsthand
    amputated limbs, mutilated bodies, disease and
    death. Some of their daily duties included
  • Tending to and cleaning wounds
  • Administering medications
  • Comforting the dying
  • Searching for wounded on the battlefields
  • Assisting doctors during operations
  • Writing letters for the soldiers
  • Talking to soldiers and building up moral
  • Transporting and delivering supplies
  • Overseeing sanitary conditions at various

Important Nurses in the Civil War
  • Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton were two of the
    most influential nurses in that they led a
    national effort to organize a nursing corps to
    care for the war's wounded and sick. Dorothea Dix
    was already known for her work in improving the
    care for the insane but for the war effort, she
    began to recruit women to serve as nurses in the
    Army Medical Bureau. Clara Barton, determined to
    help in any way she could, took care of the
    wounded soldiers who returned to Washington but
    eventually had the opportunity to work on the
    front lines of battle. After the war, Clara
    Barton became the founder of the American Red

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Civil War Women in Espionage
  • Women proved to be quite valuable when it came
    to spying for both the Confederacy and the Union.
    Their coy and gentle nature did not make them an
    easy suspect and many men would not be caught
    dead interrogating a woman. Women would often
    seduce the soldiers in to giving out information
    or often be at the right place at the right time
    and overhear useful information. The fashion of
    the time period proved to be useful as well. The
    large hoop skirts were convenient for hiding not
    only messages but goods and packages as well.
    Some women even hid letters in the center of
    their bun hairdos!

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United States Sanitary Commission
  • For the women looking to support the war effort
    but not wanting to hide goods under their skirts,
    sponge bathe an amputated leg, or dress like a
    man, the United States Sanitary Commission was
    born. In 1861, President Lincoln reluctantly
    signed the bill making the institution an
    official agency. He believed that the support
    from women was not needed and would just be an
    annoyance. He would soon be proved wrong when the
    volunteer work of thousands of women would result
    in cutting the disease rate of the Union Army in
    half and raising around twenty-five million
    dollars in support of the Northern war effort.

(No Transcript)
What exactly was the U.S.S.C.?
  • The United States Sanitary Commission allowed
    women to really get involved in ensuring the
    comfort and safety of their soldiers. Women
    tirelessly asked neighborhoods for donations,
    worked as nurses, organized kitchens in the
    camps, ran hospital ships, knitted socks
    gloves, sewed blankets uniforms, baked food,
    and organized Sanitary Fairs that raised millions
    of dollars worth of goods and funds for the
    Federal army. Warehouses were set up to repack
    and send out all of the goods being shipped in by
    mothers, daughters, aunts, and sweethearts who
    had joined together in thousands of ladies aid
    societies all throughout the North. Sanitary
    agents scrutinized the camps, inspecting the
    living conditions and the hospitals and set
    standards for the hiring of medical personnel.
    After the war, the USSC worked with Union
    Veterans to secure their bounties, back pay, and
    apply for pensions.

Lets Sum It All Up Shall We?
  • The women of the Civil War were revolutionaries
    that shattered the boundaries and limits placed
    on them by society in order to help in every way
    possible. They deserve a huge amount of
    recognition for their contributions to the Civil
    War and without their efforts, the Civil War
    might have been drastically different.

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